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Friday, September 10, 2010

Assemblyman Nelson Castro on the Issues

A couple of weeks ago, the BxNN asked Assemblyman Nelson Castro (86th AD) and his primary opponent, Hector Ramirez, to answer a series of questions about their political beliefs, and what they might do if elected (or reelected in Castro's case). Castro's campaign got back to us with answers, but Ramirez's didn't.

Candidates running for office in the 33rd Senate District (note: Tirado and Padernacht have dropped out) and the 80th Assembly district have filled out similar questionnaires.

Here, unedited, is what Castro had to say:

Will you serve as a full-time legislator? If not, what other jobs will you also keep?

Since being elected in 2008 I have served as a full time legislator and I will continue to serve full time if re-elected. My job as the Assemblyman is not a part-time declaration, but a daily commitment and full time determination to represent the views, values and interest of the people in my community.

How would you describe yourself politically (e.g. liberal, conservative, etc.)? Name three political figures you admire. What books have you read recently?

I am a moderate. My 3 most admired political figures are President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton; President John F. Kennedy. Recently, I have read; The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe.

If you were a member of the City Council last December, would you have voted for or against the Bloomberg administration’s proposal to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall? Do you support legislation in the Council right now that would mandate developers seeking city subsidies to require retail tenants to pay a living wage to their workers?

Yes, I would have supported the measure so long as we were able to negotiate a community benefits agreement that would have ensured that small businesses were protected and that our community would have been able to receive a substantial percentage of decent paying jobs.

What can you do as a state legislator to address high unemployment in the Bronx?

As your Assemblyman, I have provided funding for job development/training programs to provide the people of my community with the necessary skills to be successful in the job market. A part of my plans moving forward is to fight for new job creation tax credits; this would provide incentives for small businesses to create new jobs in our community and to encourage local hiring. In addition I have supported budget initiatives that:

• Restores $5.8 Million to the Displaced Homemaker program, the Jobs for Youth Program and the NYS AFL-CIO Workforce Development Institute.
• Supports $25 Million for the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund targeting MWBE’s.

Do you support sin taxes, such as the so-called soda tax? Why or why not?

The health of our families is of utmost importance, and I believe we need to make greater efforts to encourage wellness and healthy living, but I am against the soda tax because it will negatively affect small businesses and families. Taxing our communities in these difficult times is regressive.

What can you do as a state legislator to address drug dealing and other crime problems in the Bronx?

As your Assemblyman I am fighting to keep our community safe for our children and our families. Our community has unfortunately been plagued with high levels of drugs, gang violence, burglaries, and other heinous crimes. This highlights the crisis that our community is facing and further emphasizes the need for us to address the issue of crime in our neighborhoods. To improve our community’s public safety, I have supported:
• Statewide initiatives to combat gang & domestic violence
• State funding to expand youth recreational programs in our community
• The Taxi Driver protection Act which increases penalties for assaults on taxi drivers.
• Supported legislation that prohibits racial or ethnic profiling
• Supported Community Safe path program

What’s your position on vacancy decontrol? Do you think it should be repealed? Any other housing legislation you would like to see moved in Albany?

Yes, I believe vacancy decontrol should be repealed. I supported legislation to repeal the law.

What’s your position on same-sex marriage? Abortion rights?

I respect every individual’s right to make their own personal decisions. I voted no on the same sex marriage bill after conducting surveys in my district, in which 74% of those surveyed responded that they would want me to vote against the bill.

Do you support an independent redistricting panel?

Yes, I support and independent redistricting panel. I do not believe legislators should have the ability to draw legislative lines, because it ultimately leads to more partisanship & grid lock in Albany.

What is your view of member items? Anything you would change in the process of allotting these monies to local organizations?

I believe member items are a great way to give smaller organizations that provide critical services an opportunity to compete for funds. I believe the process should be made more transparent and that more screening should be done to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest between legislators and the organizations.

What do you think about the state’s current tax structure?

I believe we need to have a more progressive tax system. I support the millionaires tax and believe that we should also extend tax credits for women with children.

As a state legislator, what will you do to help education in the Bronx?

As a steadfast supporter of education I have:
• Supported $4.5 Million to renovate schools, construct gymnasiums, and develop recreational facilities in the 86th Assembly District.
• Supported education reform for our state and city school system
• Partnered with Citizen Schools to bring new after school programs to the district. (Citizen School expands the learning day for low-income children.
• Helped stop the MTA’s proposal that would have taken away the student metrocard discount.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Nelson Castro (File photo by Alma Watkins)


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