2017 City Council Screening Questionnaire
Candidate Name: Justin Sanchez
City Council District 14
Contact Person: Miles Burnett
If there is a Campaign office(s), is it wheelchair accessible? Yes 2825 Third Avenue, 3rd Floor, Bronx, New York, 10455
Political: Run for Something, Liberal Party, People for Bernie
Labor: Associated Musicians of Greater New York 802
Action Shows Commitment!
What have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process? My experience with advancing disability rights is tied to my experience as an activist in the community. I have vocally pushed for more favorable accessible buildings and codes in the district. As Working Families Party Recruitment Director, I recruited, trained, and worked with people with disabilities throughout the 2017 election. This was an invaluable experience in helping understand what people with disabilities go through, but also that everyone’s untapped potential can be tapped with an environment that is accessible for all. In this section, I also want to briefly mention that my cousin has Down Syndrome. He has had a profound impact on me, and when I looked at these issues, I think about whether NYC is creating and promoting an environment that’s accessible to him and his unique needs.
Will you only attend / sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities (PWDs including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible? I promise to only sponsor and organize events that are accessible to people with disabilities. It is absolutely essential that all events – but especially political ones – are accessible to all people. Whenever I am asked to attend an event, I will promise to have my staff ask the organizers of the event about their accessibility for other audiences, and help offer services when necessary.
Local Law 28 requires City department and agency “advertising and other materials pertaining to public events to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities” but it does not include elected officials or Community Boards. Do you believe the law should be amended to include electeds and Community Boards? In the absence of an amendment to Local Law 28, would you voluntarily comply? Local Law 28 should absolutely be amended to include elected officials and Community Boards. I would be a proud co-sponsor of that legislation to ensure any loopholes are closed. Furthermore, in the absence of an amendment, I will voluntarily comply for all public events.
II. General Questions:
What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities?
What would be your strategy to work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the City Council?
My strategy to work closely with the disability community is two-fold. First, I will listen to advocates and the disability community in NYC and my community, and read more about the specific issues in New York City. Secondly, and just as important, I want to use my platform to empower the disability community. I want to encourage – and help – people to join the community boards in my district, testify at City Hall, and help organize around these issues to raise the public’s awareness.
How will you use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections for persons with disabilities? I will use my office to affirm and strengthen civil rights protections for disabilities by sponsoring any legislation that closes loopholes in current law that discriminates against the disabled community. In a progressive city like New York, I find it wholly unacceptable that the disabled community would not have full civil rights protections. As a city council member, I will use my platform to bring greater awareness, but most importantly, empower the voices of those who have lived experiences and greater perspective than me. Furthermore, more broadly, I want to use my office to bridge community organizations and the grassroots/political groups of all interests to intersect and work together. I will always ensure the disabled community has a seat at the table.
Will all events planned by your office be accessible with all material including the appropriate accessibility symbols (such as the wheelchair, ASL CART, etc) Yes, they will.
What is your position on the development of supported apartments/homes for people with disabled in your borough? I support the development of supported apartments/homes for people with disabled in the Bronx, and will push for more housing developments that are for the disabled community.
Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of “visitability” in the Building Code? Yes, I absolutely support incorporating the concept of “visitability” in the Building Code. It is imperative that all newly constructed buildings – but especially multi-family dwellings – enable people with disabilities to visit. Furthermore, residents, who get older and/or get disability, should be allowed to stay in that dwelling. It is unfair and immoral to create conditions that would do otherwise.
What will you do to expand affordable wheelchair accessible transportation in NYC, express buses, and shuttles, more accessible subway stations, etc.? I have a firm belief that all public transportation in New York City – express busses, shuttles, and subway stations – should be freely wheelchair accessible. I would support legislation that would mandate all subway stations, buses and shuttles are wheelchair accessible by 2024, and that all future transit projects must be wheelchair accessible. This is essential reform for the disabled community, but also for the elderly and the working class. This is far overdue, and will make this a priority when I’m in office.
Access-A-Ride (AAR) users experience unnecessarily long trips, causing users to be late for work and appointments. Users have been stranded and penalized as a "no-show" when the vehicle never arrived. Riders who complain report they have been subject to retaliation. What would you do to improve the quality of service? As a city council member, I will improve the quality of service in Access-A-Ride by first supporting a taskforce to fully investigate the program by interviewing staff and participants to help figure out what leads to unnecessarily long trips and unpleasant experiences. That said, I would also support modifying the program’s rules so that no user can be subject to retaliation for reporting an issue or complaining. The workplace culture at AAR should be reformed, and there should be a no tolerance policy for retaliating against its users. This is an extremely necessary service for people, and we must take every step we can to ensure it’s working well – and gets the feedback it needs to get better.
VI. Community Boards:
Do you support requiring all Community Board meetings and functions to be accessible, including requiring sign language interpreters and large print format material? Yes, I support requiring all Community Board meetings and functions to be accessible, including requiring sign language interpreters and large print format material. Community Boards are at the core of civic involvement, and no one should face a barrier to that. It should be required and paid for by the New York City government.
b How many people with disabilities have/will you appoint to your local Community Board? As a city council member, I can only nominate potential appointees. That said, I would make sure to nominate at least two members who have disabilities and can advocate on behalf of the disabled community. Representation is imperative.
VII. Discretionary Funds:
Will you use your discretionary funds to support organizations serving PWDS or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to PWDS? As a city council member, I will bring my district into the New York City Participatory Budget Program. I will make sure organizations that serve PWDS will be on the board of my district’s program planning and that service organizations are encouraged to participate/have their program on the ballot. Furthermore, I will also be aggressive in ensuring people with disabilities vote on the budget (including pushing for online and mail-in voting), so their voices are heard.
a. What steps do you think NYC should take to encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible? NYC should encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible by assisting them financially when they want to renovate their establishment to be more accessible. It is expensive to do business in New York City, and as a city government, we should absolutely give them all types of resources necessary to transform their establishment. Many people will take advantage of this, since it fits within their financial interests.
How would you ensure that emergency evacuation for PWDS provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of PWDs in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situation? I would ensure that emergency evacuation for PWDS provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of PWDs in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situations by mandating that all future buildings have necessary PWDS provisions and to have a goal that by 2020 all buildings have PWDS provisions. Furthermore, we should make sure the NYPD and FDNY have all the necessary training and resources necessary to be fully equipped and ready for this situation.
X. Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)
a. Mayor Bloomberg elevated the Director of the (MOPD) to a Commissioner without any increase in budget. How would you ensure that city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD? I would help organize with the disabled community to ensure that the Mayor’s office feels political pressure from the outside to ensure there are budget increases in future MOPD budgets. Furthermore, I would ensure city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD by always ensuring that a representative of MOPD are at hearings, planning meetings, and to try to enforce a rule that a rep of MOPD meets with every city department/agency at least three times a year.
How do you believe the City Council should enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts? The City Council should enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts by helping the inside-out strategy of organizing. On the inside, we have to make sure to lobby and prioritize an increase for the MOPD budget and increased oversight. On the outside, we have to use our public profile to highlight issues and help get grassroots/political groups to work together to build pressure on the mayor’s office. Elected officials cannot do everything by themselves, and it will require working with outside groups to strengthen all of our political power.
Date: June 9, 2017