Sunday, February 2 — 2020 Endorsements

With four Democrats running against Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and a challenger trying to unseat Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, we have a full slate of candidates to meet before voting on our 2020 endorsements.

To pack it all in, we are having a rare Sunday afternoon meeting on February 2 (yes, that’s Superbowl Sunday, but we will definitely be finished before kickoff).

Sunday, February 2, 2020
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Seward Park Coop Community Room
266 East Broadway

Everyone is welcome to hear from the candidates and ask questions, but the endorsement vote is only for GSD members with voting privileges. Any voting member who cannot attend is allowed to have another member carry their proxy, but each member attending can carry only one proxy, so it’s best if you know someone and trust their judgement. (You can download a proxy here.)

It’s critical that we make an informed choice for these important campaigns for Congress and State Assembly. I hope to see many of you at this meeting and I’m looking forward to a lively debate!

Grace Lee, Candidate for State Assembly (AD 65)

Grace Lee
Twitter: @graceleefornyc

Grace is a mother of three children, a small business owner, and a first-generation Asian-American proud to call Lower Manhattan her home for nearly 15 years. She is the co-founder of Children First, a parent-led activist group fighting for the safe cleanup of a toxic site located across from two elementary schools in the South Street Seaport.

Grace is a successful political organizer and entrepreneur. Prior to Children First, she was the New York events director for Swing Left, helping flip the House in 2018. She is also the co-founder of Nine Naturals, a toxin-free beauty line for pregnant and new moms.

Grace received her BA from Columbia University and her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Grace is proud to have the endorsement this year from Downtown Independent Democrats.

As our 65th District representative in Albany, Grace will fight to:

  • Fully fund the public school system: Grace will fight for more schools, more classrooms, and more teachers at higher wages.
  • Create more affordable housing: Hundreds of thousands of homeless New Yorkers sleep on streets lined with vacant luxury condos; Grace will fight for more affordable housing, NYCHA funding, and a real pathway to homeownership.
  • Expand environmental justice: Grace is running to protect our children, our seniors, and ourselves from overaggressive developers and corporations that exploit our health for profit.
  • Advance climate change resiliency: Grace lived through Superstorm Sandy and knows the consequences of not being prepared. She will take immediate, decisive action by plowing through the red tape and holding bureaucrats accountable.
  • Clean up campaign finance: Grace is committed to campaign finance reform. She is the only candidate in this race who has not taken money from developers.
  • Combat anti-Semitism: Grace will always stand up on the front lines against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination.

Grand Street Dems asked each 2020 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, February 2.

Suraj Patel, Candidate for Congress (NY-12)

Suraj Patel
Twitter: @surajpatelnyc

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and to speak about our campaign for Congress. The 2020 election is the most important election of our lifetime. Every one of us can agree that this country is headed in the wrong direction. We desperately need change this November. But if we want change in November then we have an obligation to lead with change in June.

I’m running for Congress because the promise of New York — education, opportunity, and economic mobility — is broken. When my parents immigrated to the United States from India in the 1960s, the halls of Wall Street and the Ivy League were closed to them. So, like so many immigrants, they started a business. My childhood was spent working in motels, washing bed sheets, bussing tables, and filling vending machines. And in one generation, my parents were able to send me to college, I became an attorney in New York City, and I got to work for the greatest President in our lifetimes.

Every one of us can remember how exhilarating it was when we worked together to elect Barack Obama. We came together to elect somebody with fight, and somebody with vision for the future. I’m fighting to fulfill that progressive vision, and I’m asking you to join me because you believe in this vision, too.

In our vision for the future, families, not corporations, have a seat at the table, so that work ethic and effort, not the circumstances of your birth, determine your outcome. In our future, New York has fighters in Washington, so we get our fair share to rebuild our infrastructure, our housing, and our schools. In our future, inevitability is not a moral justification. Climate change, mass incarceration, and mass deportation are relics of the past.

That’s why I’ve put forward an ambitious “Upward Mobility Agenda” that is focused on economic opportunity for families, fighting for New York, and addressing the greatest social justice causes of our generation. (You can find it at I want to thank you for all your work as a Democratic organization and hope you will consider being involved with our campaign. The promise of New York belongs to each and every one of us, and our doors are always open. I look forward to meeting you all individually and hearing your ideas, questions, and concerns over the next few months.

— Suraj Patel

Grand Street Dems asked each 2020 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, February 2.

Carolyn Maloney, Member of Congress (NY-12)

Carolyn Maloney
Twitter: @CarolynBMaloney

In every political campaign, candidates will tell you what they intend to do. But it’s important to know what they’ve done already  — what they’ve achieved for their community. I’m proud to say that I have a long record of achievement for this district, our city, and our country. 

This past year, for instance, I was elected by my peers to become the first woman to ever chair the Oversight Committee. That has put me on the front line in the battle to take on Donald Trump — and hold him accountable. We’ve already stopped him from adding the citizenship question to the Census, and have a case before the Supreme Court to get his financial records and tax returns. We also impeached him; I was one of the committee chairs who helped lead the investigation, and signed the articles of impeachment. I’ve also held hearings on family separation, abortion access, paid family leave, harassment and retaliation in the coast guard, and facial recognition software  — which is definitely not ready for prime time — and worked to hold DHS, CBP and ICE accountable for their treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers at the border.

I passed landmark legislation to make permanent the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, a $38 billion dollar, publicly-funded program for the heroes, heroines and survivors of 9/11, which I’ve been fighting for over the last 18 years. 

My Debbie Smith Act was reauthorized. It funds the testing of DNA evidence – which has already helped to put thousands of rapists behind bars, and has been called one of the most important anti-rape bills ever passed.

I also pushed for a Congressional hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment – the first hearing in 36 years. And now  — after it’s ratification by Virginia and a vote to remove the ratification deadline in February — we are on our way to finally putting women into the Constitution.

We passed paid parental leave for 2.1 million federal workers, an effort I led the fight on for years. It’s the first step towards universal paid family leave for every American, and I’ve already held oversight hearings on how we can make that happen.

I was also successful in securing $25 million for the CDC to finally study the epidemic of gun violence. That’s the first federal funding in more than 20 years. And I plan to keep working to enact common-sense gun reform, like background checks, an assault weapons ban, and ending illegal gun trafficking by making it a felony at the federal level. 

Here at home, I’ve worked to create parks and public spaces, partnered with local officials to get rid of illegally parked garbage trucks, stood by NYCHA tenants to demand the repairs they deserve, gotten audits on postal service issues, built bridges and more, thanks to strong partnerships with members of the community and a lot of hard work.

But there is so much more work to be done. We must ensure healthcare for all  — it’s a human right, and while we protect the Affordable Care Act’s protections, particularly those for people with pre-existing conditions, we must also lower drug costs and work to pass single payer Medicare for All.

We also have to make progress on the climate crisis  — the greatest existential threat of our time. I’m an original co-sponsor on the Green New Deal, and a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Housing. In our district, I think the Green New Deal for Public Housing will help alleviate the housing crisis, green the housing stock we already have, create good jobs, and help build even more public housing in the future.

And we have to make sure we’re giving everybody a fair shot to succeed and thrive, through good jobs, fair wages, enabling our seniors to retire with dignity, providing free four-year college tuition at state schools, and eliminating student debt.

In my career, I’ve passed over 70 bills and billions in federal infrastructure funding for this District– and I’m not done yet. I hope the work I’ve done for our district and my ability to partner with constituents to achieve results has earned your support for 2020. 

— Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Grand Street Dems asked each 2020 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, February 2.

Erica Vladimer, Candidate for Congress (NY-12)

Erica Vladimer
Twitter: @EricaForNY

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.

Sunday at 10 am: Solidarity March

There have been horrific incidents of anti-Semitism around the New York area over the holiday season.


This Sunday, New York strikes back with a peaceful Solidarity March across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Please join us at 10:00 am on Sunday, January 5 at Ahearn Park (Grand Street and East Broadway).

We will start our march at 10:15 down East Broadway and join the larger demonstration at Foley Square at 11:00, then continue across to Columbus Park in Brooklyn.

Bring signs, bring friends — show the world we are proud, united, and strong.


Apply to the Community Board by January 21

New York’s Community Boards act as important intermediaries between city government and local neighborhoods. But without much explicit authority, Community Boards are only as strong as their members. We’ve seen Community Boards in the city press city agencies and elected officials for funding local priorities and take a stand against overdevelopment and upzoning.

Our local Community Board — CB3 — needs new members every year to maintain this sort of advisory role in an active manner. If you are interested in taking on a role like this in our neighborhood, you can apply online for an interview with the Borough President’s office by January 21.

If you are applying, please drop us a note to let us know!

DOT fails to provide any near-term relief from Grand Street gridlock

Sean Quinn, Assistant Commissioner for street improvement projects at NYC Department of Transportation, visited the Community Board transportation committee last night to update CB and community members on DOT’s work to solve the gridlock around Grand Street caused by car traffic heading east across the Williamsburg Bridge.

Quinn gave a short presentation outlining two possible solutions, but did not present any proposal for the committee to vote on. He suggested he would be ready to do so in two months.

Quinn first listed several small changes that have been made to improve traffic flow toward the cramped Clinton Street on-ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge, admitting that none of these changes had made any significant impact.

He then discussed two possible solutions, both of which were first presented by community members at the GSD Traffic Town Hall in January 2018:

  • Opening Delancey Street under the bridge to thru traffic from the FDR Drive to the bridge entrance, in order to bypass Grand Street.
  • Forcing Grand Street traffic past Clinton Street (to Norfolk), in order to avoid the pinch-point at Grand & Clinton.

The first suggestion, he said, had been studied more completely, and presented several big challenges, including getting NYPD and FDNY to agree to having bridge traffic pass right by their stations at Pitt and Delancey. (Quinn said that neither department had yet been contacted to get feedback.)

The second suggestion, he said, had not yet been fully explored but looked more promising from a logistics point of view — but would not be able to be implemented until construction on Norfolk was complete, perhaps two years from now.

Community members asked questions and made further suggestions for over an hour, including many that have made repeatedly over the two years that we have been pursuing a solution to the traffic problem with DOT.

District Leader Daisy Paez presented Quinn with a petition with over 1000 signatures from community members demanding a solution to the gridlock.

Tuesday 12/10: Grand Street Gridlock meeting with DOT and CB3

We’ve been at this for a couple of years, but we still haven’t seen a reasonable response from NYC Department of Transportation to address the traffic madness on Grand Street, Clinton Street, and East Broadway. Tuesday’s meeting at Community Board 3 is the next chance for us to raise our voices. Please join us!

Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 pm
Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center
at Henry Street Settlement
269 Henry Street
CB3 Transportation, Public Safety,
& Environment Committee

DOT has promised to release data from traffic studies, and to respond to suggestions made by community members at our Town Hall back in 2018. We need to come out in strength to this Community Board meeting to hold them to their word.

In addition, please sign this petition, started by District Leader Daisy Paez, that we are proud to co-sponsor. Petitions will be presented to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and DOT Manhattan Commissioner Ed Pincar.

Holiday Party 2019 — thank you!

Thank you to the event’s hosts, who gave a little extra into the tip jar. Many of these friends have been graciously supporting GSD from the very beginning:

  • Courtney Allison & David Horowitz
  • Allison & Joey Gordon
  • Caroline Laskow & Ian Rosenberg
  • Yuh-Line Niou
  • Daria & Diego Segalini
  • Judith Wind
  • Kenny Wind
District Leaders Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman present GSD Citizen of the Year! awards to Pat Arnow and Tommy Loeb.

Also thank you to our 2019 Citizens of the Year!

  • Pat Arnow, in recognition of her vital and spirited defense of East River Park, and of her work to mobilize the community for a better flood protection plan.
  • Tommy Loeb, for his consistent and fierce advocacy before our elected representatives on behalf of the residents of Grand Street and the Lower East Side.

And thanks to all of you! Thank you for your support and continued advocacy for the neighborhood. Happy Thanksgiving and a full, joyous, holiday season!