Born in Manhattan and raised in Pennsylvania, Maud Maron returned to New York City for college and law school. She now lives in Soho with her husband and four children, working as a public defender and serving as an elected member of the Community Education Council. Her District 1 campaign has been driven by issues related to education and public safety. If elected, she would be succeeding the term-limited Council Member Margaret Chin and represent District 1, which encompasses Chinatown, the Financial District, Seaport, Lower East Side, Tribeca and Soho. Here’s our candidate Q&A with Maron:
Why are you running for City Council in District 1?
I’m a mom. I have four kids, and I really feel responsible for building and ensuring the city that I want my kids to continue to grow up in.
The central issue in most races this year is recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – if you’re elected, what kind of policies would you pursue to help workers, families and small businesses get back on their feet?
I don’t know that I think that the central issue is COVID recovery in Lower Manhattan. I think it’s a super important issue, but I wouldn’t say it’s our central issue. I think public safety is our central issue. We just had another incident two days ago of an Asian woman walking down the street in Chinatown, being hit in the face and knocked out in a totally unprovoked attack. Now, what COVID is certainly highly relevant to multiple issues in our district: we’ve been shut down for way too long and we’ve been engaging in, frankly, what I would call COVID theater. Two out of four of my children have not been back in school for a proper five-day week of school since March of 2020. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, from a legitimate public health perspective that justifies adolescence being out a full time school for 15 months. Their survival rate is higher for COVID than it is for seasonal flu. And at this point any adult who wants can be vaccinated. Anyone over 12 that wants to be vaccinated. There’s simply no excuse not to have fully reopened five-days-a-week school right now.
Do you have ideas you can outline on helping small businesses?
We have to get property taxes lower because right now, the biggest thing that’s happening that impacts small businesses, is when their rents go up because property taxes are so high and landlords pass on their expenses, understandably, to the tenants ... Property taxes under de Blasio have gone up by 50 percent, which is just insane. That’s a start, which is something that we can do right away. I’ve also heard sensible proposals – and I don’t think it will solve for every problem – but I’ve heard sensible proposals about changing the way businesses are fined. There are so many different city agencies that give fines... we could allow small businesses to have a clearance period, or instead of going straight to a fine, we make it something without a fine. I think that makes sense.
You touched on public safety as a critical issue, but still there remains a call to reform the NYPD – how do you negotiate those two needs of keeping the city safe while reforming policing?
We always need police accountability, and we need good policing. We need successful, well-staffed, appropriately funded policing in all of our neighborhoods, and we need the police to be accountable to the neighborhoods that they work in. Those two things are not in any way shape or form in conflict. Decreasing funding for the police doesn’t make them more accountable. It’s just people trying to sort of “out-progressive” one another in a way that doesn’t actually make our neighborhood safer, or make police more accountable.
Howard Hughes Corporation’s proposal to build a 324-foot tower within the South Street Seaport Historic District has divided neighbors downtown. Is that a project you support, why or why not?
I think protecting historic neighborhoods is particularly important. I happen to live in a historic neighborhood. I live in Soho, and I know that the beauty of the neighborhood and the unique character of the neighborhood I live in wouldn’t exist had we not been landmarked as a neighborhood decades ago in the 1970s. So I don’t support [it]. I do think a much lower scale building in the parking lot that’s in discussion about the South Street Seaport might be suitable in a way that could meet some needs, and not present the very real concerns that neighbors have in terms of having a tower towering over the Seaport.
What other issues are top of mind for you?
We need a jail solution. Here we have agreement among all our candidates now ... that we should not build the mega jail that’s proposed for District One, but somewhat confoundingly [sic] several of the other candidates in this race think we should close down Rikers Island. Well, if you don’t build new jails, and you close down all the old ones, what exactly is your position? I find it so strange that so many candidates who are in this race say that they want to basically have no jails at a moment of rising crime.
Are you in favor of finding a new location for the proposed jail or keeping Rikers open?
I think Rikers Island needs to be seriously rehabbed. I’ve represented lots of people who have been incarcerated in Rikers Island, and I know how awful it is. But the fact is, the jails that are being proposed for the boroughs are a complete disaster. They’re high rises, so the human beings that are housed in those jails won’t have access to the outdoors. We need low-rise jails that are 21st century humane jails where the incarcerated people can go outside and don’t destroy neighborhoods like Chinatown, or the other residential neighborhoods.
What’s something not related to your platform that you want voters to know about you?
I’m a great baker. I make great banana bread.
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