StreetsPAC today announced its third round of candidate endorsements for New York City’s September primary election, placing its support behind the City Council campaigns of four candidates contesting open seats, Kirsten John Foy, Mark Levine, Ritchie Torres and Mel Wymore; endorsing Councilmember Brad Lander for re-election; and making its first foray into a citywide race by backing Letitia James’s run for Public Advocate.
“In endorsing Brad Lander for re-election and Tish James for Public Advocate, we’re recognizing two of the City Council’s most outspoken supporters of complete and livable streets,” said Eric McClure, StreetsPAC’s treasurer. “Brad has championed smart traffic-calming projects like the redesigns of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West and Fourth Avenue, pushed for more thorough NYPD crash investigations, and has called for expanded pedestrian and cyclist access to the Brooklyn Bridge. He’s set a high standard for smart transportation advocacy in the Council.”
One Council peer who has lived up to that standard is Letitia James, whom StreetsPAC is endorsing in the hotly contested race for Public Advocate. “Tish has fought hard to improve the streets of her district,” said Mike Epstein, a StreetsPAC board member. “She was an early proponent of the Grand Army Plaza redesign, supported creation of the Fowler Square Plaza, and stood up in a big way for bike share. As Public Advocate, she’ll take the fight for safe, complete streets citywide.”
The four first-time Council candidates gaining StreetsPAC’s endorsement today are just as impressive in their own rights as James and Lander. Mel Wymore and Mark Levine, running in Manhattan’s 6th and 7th Council districts, respectively, have been instrumental in bringing safer streets to the Upper West Side in leadership roles on their local Community Boards. Kirsten John Foy has a distinguished career in public service under his belt, and Ritchie Torres boasts a resumé that belies the fact that, at just 24, he’s the youngest candidate running for city office.
“We’re excited about each and every one of these candidates,” said StreetsPAC co-founder Peter Frishauf. “They’re all deeply committed to making their districts safer places for people on foot, on bikes, on transit and in cars. We’re looking forward to a City Council in 2014 that will make livable streets a top priority.”
Here’s more background on today’s StreetsPAC endorsees:
Letitia James, Public Advocate (Open Seat) – In her 10 years in the City Council, Tish James has established a reputation as an outspoken crusader unafraid of seemingly lopsided battles. As Public Advocate, she pledges to use the powers of her office to ensure that the NYPD conducts full and complete crash investigations and holds dangerous drivers accountable for their actions, and will champion the expansion of complete-street projects, especially to disadvantaged neighborhoods that are all too often plagued by poor road design.
Brad Lander, Council District 39, Brooklyn (Incumbent) – In his three-plus years in the Council, Brad Lander has led the way on a number of important transportation issues. His second-term priorities include the development of a citywide master plan for Select Bus Service, and the rapid expansion of the bike-share system, which he views as an important new piece of transportation infrastructure deserving of public investment.
Kirsten John Foy, Council District 36, Brooklyn (Open Seat) – Motivated by a public-health crisis in his district, Kirsten John Foy will push for local street-safety improvements and alternative-transportation options. He will introduce bike-education programs to Bed-Stuy public schools, and wants them to become a citywide initiative. Foy also believes in transportation equity – he wants to increase access to bikes in his district and ensure there is a good bike-lane network on which to ride them, and expand street-seating for seniors and Select Bus Service beyond Nostrand Avenue.
Mark Levine, Council District 7, Manhattan (Open Seat) – Mark Levine strongly supports improving travel times for all 125th Street bus lines through implementation of Select Bus Service. He’ll champion the expansion of Citi Bike to all of northern Manhattan and work with community stakeholders to extend northwards the complete-streets package of pedestrian safety improvements, landscaping, protected bike paths and other amenities that have already taken root on Columbus Avenue.
Ritchie Torres, Council District 15, Bronx (Open Seat) – “I’m a walker,” says Ritchie Torres. “The car should not be the center of urban life.” As a child in the Bronx, Torres grew up with asthma as a result of the pollution spewed by traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway. He will work to improve health in his district through the transformation of major thoroughfares, like the Grand Concourse and East Tremont Avenue, into complete streets with room for transit users, cyclists, and pedestrians. He will also aim to improve the walking experience around Arthur Avenue, a mecca for visitors.
Mel Wymore, Council District 6, Manhattan (Open Seat) – During his first term as Chair of Manhattan Community Board 7 in 2010, Mel Wymore championed the plan to transform a one-mile stretch of Columbus Avenue into a complete street. Thanks to that effort, the entire length of Columbus is now getting the safe-streets treatment. Wymore pledges to lead the way on a similar transformation of Amsterdam Avenue, and avenues citywide. Wymore, who advocated for a borough-wide car-free Central Park resolution in 2011, plans to work to remove cars permanently from the park.
For more information, and to sign up for volunteer opportunities this election season, click here to get involved with StreetsPAC.