Hello GSD members! My name is Erica Vladimer, and I am a licensed attorney, education advocate, workplace protection activist, and community ally, who firmly believes that the government can be a source for compassionate and inclusive societal advancement.
My belief in the government’s capacity to be a source of social justice is what inspired me to build my career in government service. Before announcing my run for Congress, I worked as an education policy analyst for New York City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO), evaluating federal and state policies that critically affect students and their families. Before joining IBO, I spent two years in the New York State Senate — first as a Senate Fellow, and then as counsel. During those two years, I partnered with advocates and coalitions built to develop comprehensive education policies. I drafted legislation and represented the interests of senators at the budget negotiation tables.
As it currently operates, our government institutions continue to shut out the very people who define what it means to be a forward-thinking, inclusive community. I was one of those voices that so many elected “leaders” tried to silence when I came forward to tell my story of sexual assault at the hands of one of their most powerful members, and my former boss, ex-State Senator Jeff Klein. Instead of cowing to their demands to “stop talking about it” (a direct quote), I stood shoulder to shoulder with other survivors of harassment and assault, asking elected officials to center our experiences while crafting sexual harassment protections.
Our advocacy — with meaningful support from a new generation of leaders elected to office in 2018 — led to sweeping reforms of state laws. A group of thoughtful, ambitious women spearheaded this new vision of government by listening to advocates, experts, and those with real-life experience lead the conversation. We could trust them to zealously advocate for our cause “in the room.”
I’m running for Congress because I want to be *that* legislator on the federal level! I want to be the legislator that advocates, experts, activists, and the people closest to the pain trust to fight for them on the inside. Elected officials need to have the hard, uncomfortable conversations and make room at the table so those with the lived experiences can lead those conversations. But, the current process centers money and power over the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. We need, we deserve, electeds who are willing to put themselves out there for their most vulnerable neighbors.
NY-12 deserves a leader who does more than co-sponsor popular bills or speaks out on controversial issues days after everyone has chimed in. Actions speak louder than words, and we deserve a congress member who leads with action. A new voice — our voice — will disrupt these current processes. We cannot enact bold, progressive policies if the methods in which we draft, negotiate, and debate those reforms remain the same.
Being a member of Congress isn’t a job. It’s a privilege, and I will honor that role by working with advocates, activists, and experts to create a more just and equitable society.
— Erica Vladimer
Grand Street Dems asked each 2020 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, February 2.