Affordable Housing ● Public Housing ● Education ● Jobs, Small Businesses and Opportunity ● Transportation ● LGBTQ Rights ● Senior Citizens ● Criminal Justice Reform ● Immigrant Rights ●Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability ● Healthcare
Ronnie offers not only a fresh perspective to the foregoing issues, but also comes from a unique background with a wealth of experience in public service.
Housing is a basic human right. Nonetheless, affordable housing has become a scarcity amidst rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. As councilman, Ronnie will increase awareness of tenants rights and advocate for affordable rents by holding enforcement entities accountable and protecting the most vulnerable in the district.
Ronnie will take a strong look at increasing oversight on landlords who take advantage of affordable housing initiatives to increase their bottom line. Landlords and developers cannot take advantage of their tenants, making our neighborhoods continually less affordable.
From the Jacob Riis to the Baruch Houses, District 2 has many public housing developments where conditions need to be rapidly improved. Under President Trump’s new federal budget, New York City Housing Authority will see a $75 million cut. As a city and as a community, we need creative solutions and a commitment to long term improvements for NYCHA buildings and its residents.
For instance, community held land banks have been proven to be an effective way to revitalize unused lands, rather than just selling the land to developers. NYCHA would maintain title to the land — potentially through a community land trust model — and work with nonprofit developers to achieve deeper and permanent affordability from green and recreational space to possible new affordable housing. And secondly, we need to take a hard look at NYCHA’s budgets and put serious capital into major repairs. We must make long term investment rather than stop gap measures.
The district needs a council member who will fight for continued NYCHA funding, and who will work to provide proactive solutions to the problems faced by NYCHA tenants.
Having attended public school his whole life, Ronnie understands the transformational power of quality public school education in shaping a child’s future as well as to the communities they live in. He has mentored young kids in the city along with New York Yankee Derek Jeter, and will continue to work towards improving public schools through increased funding, greater access to technology, and stronger support for teachers.
Jobs, Small Businesses and Opportunity
Ronnie’s parents were small business owners and understands the role of small businesses as the backbone of any community. Recently, he has witnessed many small and family owned businesses close their doors or get replaced by larger chain stores.
Ronnie supports a repeal of the commercial rent tax. This arbitrarily assessed tax puts business owners in District 2 at a disadvantage, and makes it difficult for community institutions to keep their doors open. Additionally, Ronnie supports commercial rent stabilization for small locally owned businesses, especially for women and minority-owned businesses. Small businesses should not be subjected to the same rent increases as large commercial tenants; it is punitive toward their business success.
Ronnie will work alongside small business owners to protect and bring back local cafes, restaurants, professional creatives and boutiques to our many neighborhoods that have lost them over time.
Our once-vibrant public transit system is crumbling. The regular delays, accidents, and malfunctions are unacceptable to everyday New Yorkers. As councilman, Ronnie will hold Gracie Mansion and Albany accountable for funding transportation and will explore creative solutions to the L train shutdown, from increased ferry service to dedicated bus lanes across the Williamsburg Bridge. He will fight to allocate more funds to the maintenance of our subway system and increase the availability of options in and around District 2 to ensure that New Yorkers don’t have to restructure their entire lives due to a rusty system.
Although America has made great strides towards LGBTQ equality over the past decade, constant vigilance on a local level is required to ensure that the steps forward we have made are not walked back. While Republicans in Washington are doing everything they can to circumvent federal protections, Ronnie will make sure New York City enforces its robust anti-discrimination laws and that every New Yorker is safe and respected in their city. LGBTQ rights are especially personal to Ronnie. During his time at MTV, he won an Emmy for The T Word, a documentary co-produced by Laverne Cox celebrating transgender youth. Ronnie wants New York City to be a safe place where the most vulnerable can find their voices.
One of the most important functions of a society is to take care of those who have devoted their lives to it. Thirteen percent of New York City, and over 50,000 residents of District 2 are senior citizens. As councilman, Ronnie will work to increase awareness of resources and services currently available to seniors and will advocate for the creation of new programs to better care for seniors in District 2 and beyond. As city councilman, Ronnie will increase constituent services from increased awareness of Medicare’s free annual wellness screening to being a resource for translation services at health care and senior centers for our non-English speaking seniors. Ronnie believes in fighting to ensure that our seniors live happier, healthier, and longer lives.
Criminal Justice Reform
The City Council has the unique opportunity to enact substantive criminal justice reform while state and federal policymakers remain paralyzed by partisanship. Ronnie has been a staunch ally of Black Lives Matter and will continue to advocate for it on the City Council. He will fight for sentencing reform such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, and comprehensive dialogue between police and communities. New York City– with the largest police force in the world– should lead by example in advancing common sense criminal justice reform and community-oriented policing. We cannot continue to allow inequitable policies in our criminal justice system to disproportionately target New York City’s communities of color.
The son of Korean American immigrants in a predominantly white and Latino neighborhood, Ronnie grew up being continuously reminded that he was different from other kids in his community. Ronnie knows firsthand the challenges of being an immigrant in America, and as councilman will be a staunch advocate for immigrants in District 2 and throughout New York. Even today, immigrants of all stripes are discriminated against in the workplace and in housing, and Ronnie will fight to end that discrimination and exploitation because he knows immigrants and their experience are integral components of the American dream.
When Ronnie worked in President Obama’s White House, he fought for comprehensive immigration reform and assisted in the planning and implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Trump administration’s attitude toward immigrants is cruel and unnecessarily punitive. As councilman Ronnie will fight for the rights of all immigrants in District 2 and in New York City, regardless of their immigration status, and will strongly support a pathway to citizenship for those already living in our country.
Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability
Climate change is one of the most pressing threats to our economy and our security that we will ever face. District 2 knows firsthand the dangers of climate change, having borne the brunt of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. New York must take its place as a leader among American cities in going green because we have the most to lose. The largest source of carbon emissions in the city is not cars, but buildings. Ronnie knows we need to be proactive in our everyday energy efficiency. Ronnie will prioritize educating businesses about better and more efficient use of electricity, and he’ll work with Con Edison to inform residents on the best ways to go green at home.
Combatting climate change is not just the smart choice to make, but also the economical one. There is such a great opportunity to create jobs in District 2 through a green collar jobs like building retrofitting. Ronnie believes it’s time to work with the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department of City Planning to do major 21st century upgrades to every building from moving power generators above flood levels to exploring the possibility of solar panels on major buildings.
Healthcare is a basic human right, and every New Yorker in District 2 and elsewhere deserves affordable and accessible health care. Ronnie helped implement Obamacare while at the White House, ensuring that millions of young Americans were aware of all their coverage options, and he believes we must preserve and protect Obamacare from Republican assault.
Ronnie also knows we must go further. The next step for New York City is a single-payer health care system that ensures all New Yorkers have easy and affordable access to the treatment, medication, and preventative care they need. With the unfortunate closure of Beth Israel Mount Sinai Hospital squeezing our district’s health care system, we need someone with Ronnie’s experience on the City Council to be an advocate for New Yorkers, because it is literally a matter of life and death.