Two weeks ago, the Bronx News Network asked candidates in 33rd District senate race to answer, in writing, a number of questions which we hope will shed light on where they stand politically, their position on key issues in the community, and what they would do if elected.
In the coming days we're going to post their unedited answers on this blog, a few at a time. Part 1 was published yesterday.
There are four candidates in the race - Pedro Espada, Jr. (the incumbent), Daniel Padernacht, Gustavo Rivera, and Fernando Tirado - which is turning into one of the most watched in the city. Padernacht, Rivera, and Tirado got back to us with answers, but Espada didn't. In an e-mail, a staffer of his wrote: "Thank you for the survey, however we will not be participating at this time. The Senator's positions will be made available via other media, including his website and Facebook, at a later date."
Additionally, I would prefer to see a statewide increase in the minimum wage than to have localized wage regulations.
Finally, I strongly believe that the only way to truly affect wages is by raising the education level of the workforce and not by artificially manipulating local markets.
PADERNACHT: In order to bring jobs to our borough, we need to create incentives for businesses. As a legislator, I can try to bring about incentives to hire locally. One such incentive is to offer Bronx businesses tax credits to hire individuals that reside in the Bronx. In addition, we need to match the skill sets of our residents with new opportunities, such as programs in green development projects.
RIVERA: Protecting and creating jobs for my neighbors is one of my top priorities. My community is home to the largest employer in the Bronx (Montefiore Hospital), many nursing homes and senior centers and several vibrant commercial districts, but we have been disproportionately hurt by the recent recession. 13% of Bronx residents are out of work —a number that is well above the city, state and national averages. Four out of ten of our children live in poverty, and our families are barely making ends meet.
We must work to ensure that all members of our community have access to jobs, a living wage, and good benefits. Many residents in our community work in vital fields: teaching our children, taking care of our elderly, and saving lives as nurses and hospital workers. Yet these important jobs are often the first cut in times of economic worry. We must protect these jobs while promoting new job growth and development within our neighborhood.
• Protect and Save the Jobs in the Community
Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to health care and education have endangered the jobs of thousands of the hardest working members of our community. I will resist ALL cuts to the nursing homes and hospitals in our community and to our schools. Budgets must not be balanced on the backs of our neediest neighbors.
• Ensure Summer Youth Jobs are Protected
New York State has proposed cutting $35 million from summer youth programs. These unacceptable cuts would cause New York City to lose more than $19 million in funding for summer youth jobs. These cuts will leave the city 28,000 jobs short. Supporting the youth in our district is vital towards establishing a vibrant future for all of us.
• Promote a Living Wage for All
Community members in the Bronx know all about the fight for a living wage. The Bronx has led the city in its fight for living wage jobs. My friend, City Council Member Annabel Palma, recently introduced the “Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act,” which would require that all publicly subsidized development projects pay workers a living wage. Initiatives like Palma’s are a necessity for our community. We must ensure that the hardworking members of our district make enough money to feed their children and support their families.
• Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises
I support legislation to expand the opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in New York State. This proposal would double the amount of goods and services bought from for minority and women owned businesses without a bidding process, and establish standards to hold state & public agencies accountable for supporting Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). Promoting MWBEs supports community members and promotes diversity within our state and will help our community. I believe that the businesses operating in our area must be a reflection of the community itself, and showcase the diversity of our city.
• Green Jobs/Green Homes
Energy costs within our district can prove to be a huge financial burden. I support The Working Families Party’s “Green Jobs/Green Homes” New York campaign that will offer green “retrofits” to homeowners. By upgrading homes to be more energy efficient, and creating jobs in the up and coming field of green construction, this program could help New Yorkers save thousands of dollars each year.
TIRADO: Funding higher education- keeping public higher education affordable is necessary to provide residents with the opportunity to develop skills that are required in today’s workforce.
Encouraging sustainable, mixed-use development to take advantage of the existing transportation infrastructure and attract jobs to the Bronx.
Support and fund institutions that attract tourism dollars to the district that create local jobs and support small businesses.
Editor's note: Tomorrow's post will include candidates' responses to questions about the budget and "sin taxes."