My Platform

I want to be crystal clear about my core beliefs.

  • It is long past due for all levels of government to recognize that housing and healthcare are fundamental human rights.
  • Climate change is the existential challenge of our lifetime and we must act now.
  • Black Lives Matter ALWAYS.
  • A woman’s right to choose must never be denied.
  • LGBTQ+ rights don't end with Marriage Equality. We have to vigorously defend the community's right to safety, healthcare, and employment.
  • The rise in anti-Semitism must be stopped by cultivating a culture of tolerance and understanding.

I also want to be forthright about my values. I am a reformer; I believe in deepening transparency, accountability, and integrity in our political system. By consistently prioritizing collaboration and communication, I know that together we can deliver better results for our community.

Protect Our Planet & Coastal Brooklyn

When it comes to the climate crisis, our leaders have waited so long and mitigated so little that moderation will fail us. We live in a waterfront district that could be deluged when the next big storm hits. We must act. Together, we can transform the 33rd into the first carbon neutral district and be a model for Brooklyn, New York City, and beyond. To end our dependence on fossil fuels and reach carbon neutrality in the 33rd District, we need a holistic and highly localized approach. Our 53 bold new initiatives build on climate policies already in place and target the largest sources of emissions in the city and our district: buildings, transportation, electricity, and waste. By empowering and incentivizing residents to act urgently to reduce emissions in each of these sectors, we can end our dependence on fossil fuels. With the right mix of new policies and financing, we can help both our planet and our communities in cost-effective ways. This vision for a carbon neutral 33rd District is informed by overarching principles:

  • We must act urgently and boldly. 
  • We must offer clear guidance so that the resources to mitigate climate change are easily actionable for all Brooklynites.
  • Every policy must be rooted in racial and economic justice.

To save our neighborhood, our city, and our planet, we will need the city, state, and federal governments to each enact bold Green New Deals that reimagine our policies across the board. The initiatives in this plan are guided by core objectives, including the elimination of fossil fuel infrastructure, building a 100% renewable energy electric grid, and creating tens of thousands of good, union jobs. To achieve these objectives we must reconsider our approaches to vehicular traffic, waste disposal, zoning and development, and more. While we aggressively push the federal and state government for critical action and hold corporations accountable, we can and must act closer to home. 

Our neighborhoods are where the vision and values of the Green New Deal become a reality. If elected, the 33rd Council Office will serve as an organizing home to reach our goal and we will have a dedicated climate justice staff member. We will help people make changes in their own lives, mobilize their neighbors, and advocate for legislation that provides more government assistance and action. We will encourage our neighbors with more resources to invest more, and work together to ensure low-income and BIPOC residents — who are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis — experience the positive impacts of these policies.

Overview of 10 Point Plan (read full plan and all 53 proposals):

  1. Electrify and retrofit our buildings

Our plan details how we will facilitate electrification and retrofits of our neighborhood building stock - the largest source of emissions -including helping at least 1,000 building owners access PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) funding, expanding the Climate Mobilization Act, eliminating gas hook ups in new construction, and incentivizing shifts to an all-electric building stock.

  1. Prioritize efficiency upgrades for NYCHA residents

Any climate change and resiliency agenda must place the most historically marginalized among us at the forefront, as the impacts of the climate crisis are most keenly felt by these communities - including the 12,000 NYCHA residents in the 33rd. Under our plan, we will eliminate gas from all NYCHA buildings, use public procurement to install efficient appliances, and pass local legislation to ensure NYCHA retrofits generate good, green-jobs for NYCHA residents. 

  1. Expand tax incentives and ease regulatory approvals to install solar on all viable rooftops

 To make the expansion of solar energy onto every viable roof in the 33rd as simple as possible, we will expand city and state tax credits, streamline the permitting process, modify the Fire Code, and provide all landlords and homeowners with a Solar Installation Kit to ensure they can easily and efficiently access available resources.  

  1. Legalize and incentivize the use of in-home battery energy-storage systems

To increase  battery storage in the district, we will legalize the use of in-home lithium ion batteries, streamline the permitting & approval process, and canvass the district to encourage all building owners to install batteries.   

  1. Provide low cost financing to encourage mass utilization of electric heat pumps

We will require heat pump installations to be fully covered by new and existing financing programs, convene experts to identify barriers and propose legislative reforms to facilitate take-up, and prioritize City-owned buildings for installation to help grow the market. 

  1. Make the Brooklyn Navy Yard a home for clean-energy industry and Green Jobs

To place the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the center of our green transformation, we will commit all available Navy Yard sites to supporting offshore wind operations, create a wind-power training program for public housing and local residents, and utilize every available rooftop for solar installation. 

  1. Mandate composting and recycling to reach Zero Waste

We must restore funding for citywide composting, so every resident of the 33rd can put their compost out for curbside pickup, and we must explore incentive-based systems to increase recycling and composting participation rates. 

  1. Encourage participation in voluntary renewable programs

Under our plan, the 33rd Council Office would launch an organizing campaign encouraging all residents to participate in appropriate, affordable voluntary programs to help make our district carbon neutral. 

  1. Accelerate New York City government’s transition to zero-emissions

Our plan has proposals to target emissions from City-owned buildings, reduce the size of the City fleet, and prioritize schools for efficient appliances and solar installation. 

  1. Reimagine our transportation network

To reduce dependence on gas guzzling cars and discourage personal car ownership, we must expand mass transit options, enhance pedestrian spaces, improve bicycle safety, and affordable access to e-bikes, and increase availability of electric vehicle charging stations. 

Our community has stepped up to fight environmental injustice time and again. We hope to bring this energy and focus to realizing carbon neutrality in the 33rd, so that we can start making the changes needed to protect our neighborhoods. 

Read the full plan here.

Lower NYC Rent

Rents for apartments and commercial storefronts have gone up and up and up for as long as anyone can remember. We have a glut of luxury apartments, but little truly affordable housing, just as we have too many empty storefronts, but too few convenient laundromats or butchers.

COVID has exacerbated these crises and laid bare how broken the real estate market is. Now, a year into the pandemic, apartment vacancies remain at record highs across the district and the rental prices have only modestly ticked down. Similarly, small businesses have closed at bewildering rates. In Greenpoint and Williamsburg alone, over 100 businesses have shuttered their storefronts and there are approximately 20 vacancies on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Ironically, COVID has presented us with a rare opportunity, which we must not squander, to reform the real estate market. The market won’t just fix itself. In the immediate: we need Albany to prevent the largest explosion of homelessness since the Great Depression and provide relief to hurting New Yorkers by canceling rent and aiding small landlords and affordable housing developments. Looking forward, we need thoughtful and sophisticated carrots and sticks to reframe our city for everyone’s advantage.
I am proposing to Lower NYC Rent - here’s how:
We will require that all landlords, whether of residential units or commercial storefronts, have to register vacant property with the New York City Department of Finance immediately upon posting a unit for rent. State Senator Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher have agreed to sponsor state legislation at my request that would require that if a residential unit in a building with six or more units has been empty for an extended period of time, the rent would be automatically reduced to the federally determined Fair Market Rent (currently $1,801 for a one-bedroom in Brooklyn). This new pressure on the market would lead to gradual reductions in the rental price, putting the apartment in reach for more working families. If the rent is reduced to the Fair Market Rent, this would allow not only more working families to afford the apartment, but also New Yorkers who are low-income or experiencing homelessness to use select housing vouchers to cover rent.

For commercial storefronts, I propose that if a space is vacant for an extended period of time, the publicly listed rent would be reduced by 10%. If the space continues to remain vacant, the rent would be reduced by an additional 10% every subsequent three months.

Council Members have significant influence over land use and development decisions and I will use that power to ensure that people in a neighborhood can actually afford the housing built in it. In my plan to Lower NYC Rent, I lay out a concrete vision for how we can recalibrate the outsize influence of the real estate industry and make sure Brooklyn is the equitably diverse place we aspire to be.
Read more about the plan here.

Small Business Recovery

Small businesses are not just the backbone of our City’s economy — they’re also the heart of our community. Our small businesses are the primary engines in our local economy but they are currently experiencing economic devastation. Many thousands of small businesses have filed for bankruptcy since the onset of the pandemic and thousands more may still close. Revitalizing our commercial corridors is a top priority for our campaign and will be a main focus of mine if I’m lucky enough to be elected to the Council.

More than 100 small businesses have closed in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. On Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, we have about 20 vacancies on just two blocks. When I was growing up, Montague was the center of our community — where neighbors could spend time at, not one but two, bookstores, pick up deliciously prepared meals at Only the Best, and get the best rugelach at Sinclair’s Bakery.

Local small businesses connect neighbors, provide jobs, and allow us to invest in our neighborhoods rather than in Amazon. As Council Member, I want to be our district’s best cheerleader – helping lead aggressive business attraction efforts and pounding the pavement in partnership with local stakeholders and neighbors to identify the businesses we love and persuade them to come to Montague Street and Smith Street and Manhattan Avenue.

We need to develop new policy tools, a mixture of carrots and sticks, to fully activate our vacant storefronts citywide. We should create a new small business loan fund through the City’s Economic Development Corporation, specifically to uplift entrepreneurs who are women and people of color to lease empty storefronts. As someone who has worked for a decade in New York City government, I know that it is both feasible and critical for government to respond to the COVID shutdown by streamlining the application, approval, and permitting processes to help small businesses swiftly open their doors — and to guide new entrepreneurs through the process. If elected, I want my office to host workshops and serve as an education and resource hub to help small businesses quickly and easily navigate the city’s bureaucracy.

And we need new tax policy that will incentivize the activation of our commercial storefronts and generate pop up stores and temporary uses to bring our neighborhoods back. But we also know that the increase in storefront vacancies happened before COVID and we need to impose new tax penalties on landlords keeping their storefronts vacant.
Read more about my plan for small businesses on Montague Street and across our district in the op-ed I penned.

Expanding Workers’ Rights

I’ve spent my career in the government and nonprofit sectors working to advance opportunities for all New Yorkers to access quality employment and to have the benefits and the security they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. I formerly served as the Executive Director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, which is comprised of 200 community colleges, union training funds and community based organizations that provide job training and job placement services to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year.

Nationally, a union worker makes 22% more each week than a nonunion counterpart. While we are, of course, a union town, less than 1 in 6 private sector workers in New York City are members of a union. Being a member of a union is more than just better wages. It is decent healthcare. It is a pension to be able to retire. And we have especially appreciated during this pandemic, it is greater safety on the job.

If I am elected, I would pursue every possible avenue to expand the ranks of organized labor and to hold bad employers accountable who are short changing their workers. I would use my bully pulpit to show up at rallies and picket lines and put active pressure on the employers. I would demand the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and other relevant city and state agencies pursue every possible enforcement tool at their disposal. You can count on me as a committed, strategic partner to help make sure we are successful at expanding the number of union families in New York City.

Below are some proposals I am keen to advocate for in consultation with labor leaders, workers, and small businesses:
  1. Pass legislation to create the first guaranteed paid time off benefit for all workers, so that every worker can take time off from work to attend a parent-teacher conference or enjoy a vacation.
  2. Expand Paid Sick Leave protections to also include gig workers, because every worker should be able to stay home when they don’t feel well.
  3. Increase the minimum wage for public sector workers and employees of organizations that contract with local government by linking it to inflation. 
  4. Replicate successful fair work week legislation beyond fast food and retail sectors to cover more workers, so we can restrict on demand scheduling and allow families to plan for the week ahead.
  5. Pass legislation for portable benefit models, including retirement security accounts for all workers in New York City.
  6. Enhance the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection enforcement capacity, including providing funding to city-contracted labor lawyers to represent workers to enforce their rights when taken advantage of by employers (like tenant right to counsel but for labor law).

A New Public Safety Agency

2020 bore witness to the largest and most diverse national protests for racial equity and Black Lives Matter in U.S. history, led by Black and Brown Americans who are demanding a better future. Our government must respond by instituting reforms that address systemic racism and reimagine our approaches to public safety.

We ask cops to respond to every issue under the sun. That’s wrong, and it’s what we must address - by reallocating resources from the police to those trained to defuse specific tension-filled situations. When a family member has a severe mental health episode and help is needed to deescalate the situation, you should be able to call someone for help who will not bring a gun into your home. When a New Yorker wants to get support for a neighbor, they should be able to call an expertly trained professional to respond in real time.

We need to create a new public safety agency made up of social workers, mental health professionals, and credible messengers trained in the community centered Crisis Management System (Cure Violence) model, all of whom must follow anti-racist principles and be experts in deescalation. Our goal is to defuse every situation, prevent violence, and get New Yorkers the help they need. Creating a new Public Safety Agency requires the reallocation of a share of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget to this new approach.

The Council has broad legislative authority to remove cops from schools, social services, homeless shelters, traffic enforcement, and elections. We should use this authority to demilitarize many of these environments. The combination of a reimagined approach to policing, one that includes new disciplinary processes and true accountability for police officer misconduct, and new approaches to achieving public safety, will make our city both safer and more respectful of our residents. The Council needs to use its legislative, oversight, and budgetary authority to transform policing and achieve a safer city for our communities.

Returning the Streets to New Yorkers

I am proud to have helped successfully advocate for Open Streets, including Outdoor Dining, as part of the City’s response to the constraints of COVID. I want to help return our streets to our residents, by making many of the pandemic-inspired changes permanent. We need to expand and invest in every type of transit, not only to serve people, increase safety, and diminish pollution, but also to disincentivize the use of personal cars. No one wants to live in a New York City clogged by traffic. To prevent that future, we need to make it easier and more attractive to choose other transportation options. I believe that a compelling transportation agenda includes more pedestrian space, a comprehensive citywide bicycle network, dedicated busways, a full length eight-car G train, expanded E-Citi Bikes, free buses, and more.

I am convinced that we can absolutely fix the BQE, while also preserving our great public treasures like the Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park, creating more green space, and reducing traffic in the process. This highway runs through so many neighborhoods; it makes sense for us all to work together to fund a holistic repair plan for this vital artery.

And we must Stop the Chop and end the proliferation of tourist and personal transportation helicopters hanging out above our neighborhoods. They clog our skies with noise and air pollution, benefitting the few at the expense of the many.

Quality Schools for All

Education is the investment we make collectively in our future. Underfunded, segregated, and pedagogically inadequate schools fail not only students and families but fail our community. We truly need every school to deliver an excellent education to every student, which means that we must have great principals and teachers working in quality environments and able to support children and families academically, socially, and emotionally. We also need to have racially and socio-economically integrated schools. They will contribute to better outcomes and would help us end the school-to-prison pipeline. We do not need cops in our schools, we need guidance counselors and social workers. Some schools are thriving, but many still need significant investment and support. If we pull together, we can make this happen.

COVID: A More Just Recovery

Even as the vaccine becomes more widely available, we need to take measures to support our neighbors who are struggling to get by. We will need similarly bold action to sustain our economy. We must continue food distribution efforts and do everything we can to prevent mass evictions by Canceling Rent owed by people unable to pay due to the crisis. But we also need to seize this moment to ensure we recover with justice. From repurposing newly available space, to providing training for people who are out of work, to strengthening our public health infrastructure so that we are prepared for the next outbreak, to providing supplemental educational opportunities for students, to building out the universal broadband network that people need to function from home - we must dream bigger than a return to normalcy.

Equity in Representation

I believe that, if I am elected, my time, energy, and resources should disproportionately be dedicated to the people in our community who are struggling the most. A range of policy proposals will be released over the course of the campaign, but the overarching objective is simple: to make the 33rd Council District a beacon for progressive government that can be emulated across our borough, city, and beyond.

Getting Big Money Out of Politics

Special interests have held too much power in our city for far too long, including real estate developers, fossil fuel companies, registered NYC lobbyists, corporate PACs, and law enforcement unions. I will not accept donations from these entities and will work to diminish their influence.

A comprehensive platform will be released in the months ahead. If you have ideas or recommendations, we would welcome them! 
Please submit them here.

Join our campaign!

PAID FOR BY LINCOLN FOR CITY COUNCIL
© Lincoln Restler 2020
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