Tiffany Winbush: ‘The Connector’

Candidate Q&A’s: Interviews with the contenders in the City Council District 1 race

| 01 Jun 2021 | 02:35

Originally from Louisiana, Tiffany Winbush moved to New York 15 years ago to build a career in marketing communications. She’s since made lower Manhattan home, raising two children with her husband in the financial district and serving three terms on Community Board 1. She says she’s running for City Council in part to address the affordability crisis that’s driving families and working people out of the city. 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 Winbush:

Why are you running for City Council in District 1?

I decided to run for City Council because I feel that there are a lot of people who are similar to me and to my family; we are putting a foothold in our career, we are raising families, and trying to do what’s right. But our voices necessarily aren’t always being heard in the process because oftentimes we’re just so busy, heads down, trying to live and trying to survive. I really want to be a voice for those all across our community.

District One is a very diverse district where we have some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country right here in the district, but we also have working class historic neighborhoods in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. We really need to get to a point where District One is no longer a silo where some parts of the district are being heard because they are able to amplify their voices, or because they have the time, they have the money, and they may have whatever resources. We collectively need to work together as a district if our entire community is going to move forward and revive ourselves after COVID-19.

The central issue in every race 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?

First, what we have to do what we need to do as a city, and the leadership within our city, to convince more people that they need to get vaccinated so that we can potentially get to herd immunity, at a minimum as a city, even if as a country that’s not possible. [And] I would say small business COVID relief ... Small businesses are the backbone of so many of our communities. Yes, they are getting some resources with things like low interest loans, long term loan forgiveness, and things of that nature, but I’m really an advocate of small business grants I would include no-strings-attached money in the hands of business owners so that they can do what they need to do in order to once again prosper in our city. Certainly rules and regulations have to be in place, but they cannot be so strict that small business owners are not able to thrive.

Over the course of the year there’s been an uptick in gun violence and other sorts of violent crime, but at the same time there remains a call to reform the NYPD – how you negotiate those two needs of keeping the city safe while reforming policing?

There’s no question that we have to reimagine the way that we do policing, not only in New York City, it is really all across our nation, because it is more so the cultural aspects of policing that more than anything. Even our current police officers are saying, “You’re asking us to do too much; you’re asking us to investigate violent crimes, you’re asking us to deal with the homeless, you’re asking us to deal with mental health.” So when I say reimagine our police and our public safety, let’s take things off of their plate that’s going to take them away from really focusing on trying to quell some of the most violent are happening in our community. And I often say to people that people get to community and that If a community is experiencing high amounts of crime and violence, it is very likely that that community is also under-resourced. So what type of resources does that community need? Do those residents need jobs and well-paying jobs that are offering full-time hours so they can get access to health care and access to stable housing? So let’s look at those communities that are experiencing high violence of crime, and see what is it that they’re lacking in as far as resources so that we can get those resources to them.

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 do not support the current plans at 250 Water Street, and I say that not because I am anti-development. I know that there are some factions of the community who believe they shouldn’t build at all ... But with that being said, the seaport is a historic district and there are rules and regulations in place for building in a historic district for a reason. The developers should have been empowered to build based on the rules and regulations that are already in place versus being given the opportunity to go far over the height limit and other aspects of what they plan to do. When we start to change those rules and regulations for one particular developer, especially in historic districts, that sets a precedent for what other developers are able to get in other historic districts.

What other issues are top of mind for you?

Affordable housing is right there at the top. Moving forward, we need to ensure that any new development has much more deeply affordable housing so that people can make this place their home and live here. I think that we can probably take the lead of what other cities are doing like in Austin and I think San Francisco, where they’re really looking at these vacant hotels that have no possibility of coming back into the market [after COVID] and converting them to deeply affordable housing. This could help young professionals, this could help low income families, and it could potentially help people who are restarting their life after incarceration or our unsheltered neighbors, whatever it may be.

What’s something not related to your platform that you want voters to know about you?

I come from a family of helpers. It’s just you know something that’s always been ingrained in me. We used to do things from sharing with you know resources we have for food because people were experiencing food insecurity to educating our neighbors about voting and getting them on the polls. And those experiences growing up has really led me to be what a lot of my close friends call me: “the connector.” Essentially what that means is that if I run into someone who needs something, and either I can help them or I know someone that’s going to help them, we’re going to make it work. We’re going to put those two parties together and we’re going to put those resources together to make sure that people have what they need.

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