Carlina Rivera, District 2 City Council Member, Runs Unopposed in Re-Election Bid

Early voting starts Oct. 28, in advance of the Nov. 7 general election. District 2 encompasses the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. Rivera, who is running on the Democratic & Working Families Party lines, spoke to Our Town Downtown about what she hopes to achieve during another term. (A possible challenger, Juan Pagan, was disqualified twice; first during the Republican Party primary in June, and again while running on the Medical Freedom Party line during the general.)

| 23 Oct 2023 | 04:08

How old are you? How long have you been in the district and what neighborhood are you from? What is your political and civic background, or your employment history?

I have spent all 39 years of my life living in Council District 2, primarily on the Lower East Side. Prior to being elected Council Member in 2017, I served as Legislative Director for Council Member Rosie Mendez, as Director of Programs & Services at Good Old Lower East Side, as Program Assistant at Lawyers Alliance for New York, and in after-school programming. I also served as the Democratic District Leader in the 74th Assembly District, and have been a member of organizations including the Commission on Gender Equity, Manhattan Community Board 3, the Public Theater, and various Democratic clubs.

Why are you running?

In my final two years in office, I want to continue to deliver on my robust record of legislation on issues such as housing, healthcare, reproductive justice, climate, green spaces, and worker protections. In our partnership, this community and I have identified issues we must tackle–from the hyperlocal to the citywide level–that have led to successful expansions in city services that address everyday issues such as sanitation, safety, and education equity. We continue to work on critical legislation that will help ensure affordable, accessible, and healthy homes, innovative initiatives to promote economic mobility, and programs that allow us to age in place with dignity. There is so much work in the pipeline that we can finish, for the good of all New Yorkers, but especially for our most vulnerable neighbors. I want to keep fighting for the community and city that I love.

What do you see as the major issues facing voters in your district, and what do you hope to do about it?

The top three issues our District office hears about are housing affordability and security, public safety, and cleaner and greener streets. I will continue to work with agencies and local stakeholders on finding opportunities to increase affordable housing opportunities throughout my district, as well as pass legislation that will ensure safer, healthier homes for families–my recently-passed legislation to protect against lead hazards is one example. We must also ensure that New Yorkers are receiving rental assistance and support services where needed, including for mental health access, to ensure they can maintain and remain in their homes. On public safety, I will continue to work with community boards, neighborhood groups, and service organizations to address areas of concern to continue improvements we’ve already seen in traditional hotspots. On sanitation and climate, we have worked to expand garbage pickup and composting opportunities in the district, increased supplemental street-sweeping, and invested in hundreds of tree plantings and resiliency measures–I’ll continue to make those direct investments.

After being disqualified from the Republican Party primary, an opponent of yours–Juan Pagan*–tried to run on the Medical Freedom Party line. It prominently features an anti-vax platform, which proclaims that vaccine requirements (whether issued by schools, private organizations, the government, etc.) are an “undesired chemical, electromagnetic or psychological intrusion inflicted upon a man or woman’s sovereign body.” What is your response to this?

Vaccines have proven effective in preventing serious illness caused by COVID-19 and other diseases, and I follow the science, especially in times of great uncertainty.

Anything else we should know about you?

As a new mother, I am excited to bring my lived experience to the work I have done and continue to do on health and education. Additionally, I am a proud, longtime pet caregiver and an advocate for animal rights. A little trivia: my pet turtle is now 31 years old.

*(Author’s note): Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the NYC Board of Elections told Our Town DT why Pagan was barred from running in the general election: “Juan Pagan was removed from the ballot by the Board at the Nominating Petition Hearings back in June for filing a defective Certificate of Acceptance of his nomination by the independent body known as Medical Freedom.”