Dear Friend,

While the Presidential election was disheartening and disappointing for so many of us who worked tirelessly to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, it has inspired people to get involved, and hopefully stay involved, in local government. We are fortunate to live in New York City, a community that values diversity, equality, and democratic ideals. Our City is a sanctuary for immigrants, for women, for the LGBT community, and for working families, and we must spare no effort in keeping it that way. In a City that harbors the Statue of Liberty and a District that hosts the United Nations, we are not turning back the clock. Our work here is more important than ever

Politics at the local level matters. So, as we turn our attention to the local elections in 2017, I want you to know I'll always fight for our shared progressive values. District 4 is an example of New York City at its finest: diverse, entrepreneurial, unstoppable, and bighearted. Everywhere I go I see the strength of our ideas, and the character of our neighborhoods. You are the experts and I've been listening to you and in response have formed a platform around a simple, yet provocative idea: A Livable CityPlease visit our campaign website to learn more about our plans for housing, education, transportation, the environment, small business, health and seniors.

Six months have passed since our people-powered campaign broke the record for the earliest and strongest fundraising start to any Council campaign . During this time we have recruited an extraordinary team composed of experts, volunteers and student interns. We invite you to join the conversation, and if you're interested in getting involved with the campaign, please  sign up here Finally, this message is the first of a ten-part series. At the beginning of each month through the primary in September, we will update you on our progress, notify you about upcoming events of interest and share a spotlight on an issue — this month, small business survival. 

Your ideas are critical to our mission of making our neighborhoods more affordable, livable and successful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at .

Best Regards,

Small businesses contribute significantly to New York City’s economy. As NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer noted in his report on small business, of the 231,190 businesses in New York City, 95% have fewer than 50 employees. Small businesses are the backbone of our great economic engine and spark employment growth at a time when large employers are cutting jobs. More importantly, local delis, barber shops, and dry cleaners make up the neighborhood fabric we come to know as “home” and define New York City’s identity. Despite their importance, we are losing our beloved small businesses at an alarming rate, averaging nearly 500 per month.

The extremely popular Ess-a-Bagel is a 3rd-generation-owned small business located in Stuy Town. In a recent conversation with co-owner Michael Wenzelberg, he shared a grave warning that “in 50 years, there won’t be any more small businesses” due to continual rent pressure, changing regulation, lack of streamlined city engagement and increased cost of operation. It is absolutely critical that we address this crisis before it is too late.

Ess-a-Bagel was established in 1976, and one of the co-Founders was Michael’s aunt, Florence Wilpon. In addition to running a small business, Florence was passionate about mentoring others. She provided a free apprenticeship to a Japanese woman visiting New York. Upon returning home, the woman opened three bagel shops of her own. This concept of creating a community of support around entrepreneurship is at the core of Women Entrepreneurs NYC, a City initiative I ran that  supports female business owners from underserved communities.

One woman I met while at WE NYC was Wen-Jay Ying, Founder of Local Roots NYC, which provides produce from local farms. Like so many business owners, she believes in mentorship and giving back. One element of our small business platform is to establish a public-private partnership that provides small businesses with free advisory committees comprised of volunteers who are experts in key fields. We also propose amending the administrative code and New York City Charter to establish goals for participation by socially responsible, mission-driven businesses, which allows for them to better compete for government contracts.

Our Small Business platform also introduces the concept of a Legacy Business Preservation Fund, which would provide qualifying small businesses with financial assistance and grants to commercial landlords in exchange for creating a 10-year lease with these businesses. In addition, we advocate reforming the Commercial Rent Tax to exempt business owners located south of 96th street who pay less than $500,000 per year in rent from paying the commercial rent tax, a change that would impact thousands of small businesses in Manhattan.

My grandfather was the son of immigrants, and it was the small barbershop he started and ran that allowed for the next generation in our family to be the first to go to college. As an advocate and former small business owner, I believe that partnering with local businesses in creating solutions will protect and preserve the fabric of our neighborhoods. Please visit the Livable City platform on my website to learn more about our plans for protecting small business and ensuring companies like Ess-a-Bagel and Local Roots NYC continue to thrive in New York City!