Melissa Mark-Viverito - Fix the MTA

1. What would be your top priority as NYC Public Advocate?

We need leaders in our city to tell the truth about where our city falls short. Both our subways and our public housing desperately need to be repaired, and New Yorkers are sick of elected officials who point fingers instead of fixing the problem. To fix the subway, in addition to supporting congestion pricing, I have proposed 'Weed for Rails,' a plan to legalize marijuana and use tax revenue to quickly invest in MTA repairs. To fix NYCHA, I have proposed an emergency working group of city, state, and Congressional leaders, an expansion of the rapid repair team, more resident input, rehabbing vacant apartments, and more. New Yorkers deserve public transit that works and safe public housing, and I am committed to fighting for them.

2. How did you choose your party name?

I chose Fix The MTA as my party name because our transit system is in crisis. Instead of finding solutions, those in power are dodging responsibility and bickering amongst themselves, while the rest of us are getting stuck on the train daily. I ride the subway every day - and I'm sick of broken promises. Every person in our city is affected by transit delays. New Yorkers are late for job interviews, for school, for school pick-up. The list goes on. The MTA is lifeblood of this city, and when it grinds to a halt, our economy stops moving. We must Fix the MTA if we want New York to continue to be the greatest big city in America.

3. What do you love about living in New York City?

I love the diversity of New York City. I came to New York at 18 from Puerto Rico and found New York to be the most welcoming place on the planet. We are a city of immigrants - and I am proud to have a record of success fighting for all of us. From funding lawyers for immigrants facing deportation, to creating a municipal ID program open to all New Yorkers, to kicking ICE off Rikers, I have a strong record of fighting for our immigrant New Yorkers - and as Public Advocate I will continue to stand up for our diverse communities.

4. What's your least favorite thing about living in New York City?

New York City is an incredible place to live, but we have fallen far behind on political representation of women. In 2009, we had 18 women out of 51 City Council members. Today, we have just 11 women on the City Council. We have three white men in every single position of citywide leadership - zero women, and zero people of color. In order for us to be a truly progressive city, we must look like the city we represent - and that starts with electing diverse leaders who look like us.

5. What was your biggest challenge in school?

Teachers called me 'Question Mark' because I asked too many questions...

6. How do we fix public transit?

We need our elected leaders to acknowledge that our transit system is in crisis, and we must find ways to increase funding for repairs immediately. We cannot wait 10 years for fixes. That's why I proposed Weed for Rails -  a plan to legalize marijuana and use 50% of the tax revenue to immediately fund MTA fixes. I also support congestion pricing, and support more investment from the state. Enough bickering between the City and the State - it's time for real solutions and real investments, now.

7. If you could have dinner with any celebrity dead or alive, who would it be & why?

Sonia Sotomayor. I just read her biography and she's truly inspiring.

8. What needs to be done to improve conditions at NYCHA complexes?

We need to make sure residents have their basic needs met, including access to heat and hot water. And we must increase transparency and accountability to make sure the conditions are actually improving. I am calling for NYCHA to expand their rapid response repair team to tackle the backlog of repairs. The city could save money by rehabbing vacant NYCHA apartments and providing permanent, subsidized housing to homeless fa.milies. We also need more citizen involvement in finding solutions, which is why I am calling for the expansion of the Resident Leadership Academy and the Resident Training Academy. I also proposed that CUNY establish a public housing institute to study NYCHA and propose solutions so this crisis never happens again.

9. Can you cook? What's your specialty?

I cook when I have the time. I like to cook salmon!

10. What inspired you to get involved in politics?

I was raised by a strong mother during the feminist movement in Puerto Rico. From an early age, my mother taught me to always fight for equality and justice in order to create a better society. To this day, I am still driven by the same belief that when one of us is hurting, we all have the duty to step in and help. I believe government needs to be responsible to the needs of the people and uplift the voices of the vulnerable.

11. What's your favorite movie? TV show? App?

The Handmaid's Tale

12. Any hidden talents?

(Question not answered)

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