By COLlive reporter
For the past eight months, residents of the 20th New York state senatorial district have been without a state senator. The previous state senator was Mr. Eric Adams who was elected as the Borough President of Brooklyn.
Over these past few months the race to become the next state senator has been an interesting one; initially there were three candidates, and as of mid-July there are now only two- Mr. Rubain Dorancy. and Mr. Jesse Hamilton. This race is being fought neck to neck, vote to vote and many political insiders believe this is going to be a very close race.
A state senator helps to monitor performances of both city and state agencies, approve the state budget, and legislate on a variety of issues such as a Yeshiva Tax Credit. Districts aren’t mapped out according to neighborhood boundaries which makes it more of a challenge for both the residents and a candidate to really cater to the various communities and their interests.
The twentieth state senate district covers Crown Heights, Sunset Park, Chinatown, and 4th Ave-Park Slope, Brownsville and Lefferts Garden.
Rubain was born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to Haitian immigrants. He is a product of NYC public schools. He attended PS 91 and IS 391 in CSD 17. And later, attended Brooklyn Technical HS in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York.
As a National Urban Fellow, he earned his JD/MPA from Brooklyn Law School and Baruch College, School of Public Affairs. He earned his SDA/SBA certificates from the Long Island University School of Education.
As a child of an educator, Rubain, who was the fourth of six children, understood very early that hard work, quality education, and discipline were the keys to success. Rubain and his wife Radika, a NYC Department of Education guidance counselor, have been together for 16 years and they are the proud parents of 3 children – Kayla, Daniella, and Alexander.
In his 20-year career with the NYC Department of Education and the community:
He initiated and led important projects for students, families, and their communities. He was a champion for closing the achievement gap, supporting homeless students, increasing local community involvement, encouraging parent engagement, minority contracting, and promoting diversity within the Department of Education.
A former Council for Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) member and Deputy Executive Director, Rubain was a staunch supporter and leading voice in the DOE for programs and policy approaches towards young men of color. He was a teacher in our community for 2 years at MS 61 in Community School District 17 from 1993-1995. He was an elected member of the Community School Board 17 from 1996-1999 while serving as a program director in a local non- profit organization that served low-income, indigent, and high needs individuals in the heart of the 20th Senatorial District. He was a budget analyst and Director of Personnel. By 2003, Rubain was overseeing several million dollars of after-school and youth development grants.
He has been a transformational leader and expanded opportunities for local service providers in Central Brooklyn. Under his leadership, the number of minority contractors and service providers increased.
He has brought in millions of grant dollars for public schools in Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and Brownsville. He established a strong partnership between our Central Brooklyn schools and our flagship local institution of higher learning – Medgar Evers College.
He established a scholarship program for low-income and homeless students and developed an innovative program to increase the number of students from Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Flatbush, and East Flatbush being admitted into NYC Specialized High Schools.
Why are you running to become the next state senator of the 20th district?
The 20th SD is an amazingly diverse and culturally rich community in which I was born, raised, educated, and served. As a product of Crown Heights and someone who is witnessing the renaissance of our district, I believe this is an important time to have creative and visionary leadership in Albany to collaborate with the NYC leaders and representatives to ensure that all of our neighbors have access to opportunities to achieve the American Dream.
I am convinced that the next state senator will have a chance to propose legislation that will impact education, housing, the economy, immigration rights, and access to justice. To that end, I believe that it is critical that we elect someone who has demonstrated a long history of accomplishments, creativity, and leadership. My track record clearly conveys that I am such a person.
Why should people vote for you? What separates you from your opponent?
Over the past 25 years, I have committed myself to community service. As a teenager, I was involved in tenant advocacy and in local city council races (since 1989). As a young adult and professional, I have served as a visionary leader and advocate on behalf of children and families in the areas of education and empowerment.
I have a comprehensive understanding of education as well as the role that high quality education can play in expanding opportunities to everyone in our community. I have also been instrumental in assisting small business understand the procurement process. Finally, I have been a leader in protecting the rights of students who are most vulnerable and at risk of being discriminated against. This speaks to my character and courage as a leader which will be vital in fighting for and securing opportunities for our community in the 20th Senate District.
If elected to the state senate which issues would you make your top priority?
I will focus primarily on comprehensive education reform, strengthening rent laws and fighting for and protecting affordable housing policies, promoting policies that will expand economic opportunities to our communities, and fighting for human and civil rights for everyone.
By focusing on these 4 big areas, we will be able to impact the critical areas of safety and quality of life in our community, income inequality, gender discrimination, rights for all protected groups, immigration policies such as passing the DREAM Act and NY is Home Act.
Where do you stand on the influx of new development projects in the district, and what are some ideas that you have to increase the availability for affordable middle income housing?
I believe that the voice of our community must be reflected in the policies and decisions that impact our community. By engaging in a process that is transparent and thoughtful, we can ensure that the development within our community does not fundamentally displace and disrupt the fabric of our community.
With respect to affordable middle income housing, we must be committed to that. We have to enact policies that, in fact, create a vibrant middle class that will be able to secure the middle income housing. We must insist on mixed income housing development to ensure that community residents are not pushed out due to inability to pay the rising rent. To that end, our policies must be broad enough to expand economic opportunities to residents and community members as well as fair enough to require mixed income development that reflects the current AMI without displacing residents.
What is your plan to help grow the local economy and keep jobs within the district?
I believe that making policies that expands MWBE opportunities and encourage the growth of small businesses is critical. In addition to that, we have to raise the current minimum wage in NY to a fair and living wage ($15). I do believe that there must be policy that ties wages to the Consumer Price Index so that the dollar can continue to keep up with rising prices of things we buy. We have to be committed to protecting the rights of low wage workers and permit workers to organize if they so choose.
I also believe that government can be a stimulating force in requiring the use of local hiring on projects that receive government funds and subsidies. We must always have a long term view of economic development so we have to be committed to a high quality educational system that prepares our community. This means maximizing our local institutions to educate our youth and community residents to become financially empowered and literate, technologically engaged and literate, and to develop life skills to participate in the 21st century economy.
Finally, we must invest in our local chambers of commerce and industry so that local small business can continue to grow and become better organized. The chambers of commerce and our local institutions of higher learning can play a great role in empowering our community to become aware of how government contracting, financial institutions, and small businesses can help to expand opportunities and promote growth.
Given the racial, ethnic and religious diversity of the district, how would you ensure that the concerns of the Jewish community are heard?
The Jewish community, like the other communities that make up the 20th SD, should expect me as your Senator to meet with you regularly. I would have established standing meetings devoted to hearing about your concerns as well as opportunities to discuss policies that are pending in Albany.
Furthermore, I believe that establishing formal and informal liaisons with (and within) the Jewish community would be vital to ensure that we have regular, open, and transparent dialogue your concerns, hopes, and aspiration.
In addition to meetings that relate specifically to the Jewish community, I believe given the diversity of the community, I would also have local meetings among faith leaders and other stakeholder-leaders across the religious continuum (and community) to ensure that we are maintaining and fostering community trust and partnership. There is great strength in the diversity and I want to maximize that power to develop the kinds of policies that benefit everyone in our district. The more we engage in creative dialogue across communities, the more we can develop ideas and policies that transcend our individual imaginations.
The primary election is Tuesday September 9th. To learn more about this candidate, visit http://www.dorancy4senate.com