For the past two decades I’ve been waiting for our politicians to address the issues that have made the lives of the working people, like mine, harder. After many years I have realized that if we are ever going to get the leaders we need, ones who care about the people and want to see us do better, then we would have to run ourselves.
I’ve been paying attention for many years now. Starting at the great recession, after the financial industry was allowed to gamble with our livelihoods. I followed the occupy movement, where our people were fed up with the corruption. I watched as citizens united was upheld, understanding at the time the disastrous effect it would have on our democracy. I watched the BP oil spill as it poured 200 million gallons of oil into our ocean, with no real accountability to the industry that has been destroying our environment and our ecosystems. I followed Standing Rock, as the Native Americans fought and lost against the oil industry’s keystone pipeline. Where it now pollutes their land and contaminates their water. I watched as the people of Flint Michigan faced the reality that their children will forever be affected by the lead in their water. I watched Trayvon Martin get murdered, as we were shown the brutal injustices our black neighbors face on a daily basis. I watched as children died at Sandy Hook and Parkland. We marched for our lives as our leaders turned their backs to the children they have a responsibility and duty to protect. I’ve watched the wars go on since I was 9 years old, as our tax dollars and priorities were shifted to fighting endless wars while our budgets and programs at home were slashed, and I’ve watched tuition rise higher and higher each year, as my generation goes deeper and deeper into debt.
Locally we’ve seen these problems too. From our water contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls, to our infrastructure crumbling all across New York. We’ve seen childhood poverty on the rise, and education become out of reach, we lack good paying jobs, and are not ready for the technological revolutions and advancements coming. We are not prepared for the imminent climate disasters that have the potential to cost our state billions, as we continue to invest in oil and gas infrastructure projects and don’t worry about the health or well-being of our future generations. Our leaders have lacked the foresight to see the consequences of their actions and they fail to prepare us for all the changes and challenges coming our way.
Being from a working-class family I have been witness to the fallout of this system. I watched as my mother worked full-time, raised two children and tried to get by living paycheck to paycheck. My father working 80 hours a week to keep up with the bills. At 16 I got a job at the local grocery store to help pay my own way and lighten the burden on my family. It happened to be the same year that the recession began. I went to Hudson Valley Community College and was the first one in my family to get a college degree. I had to make the decision not to continue my education to avoid drowning in even more student debt, despite my desire to continue. I worked very hard to move up and become an assistant store manager to avoid what I could see coming so clearly for the working class, how difficult things were about to get for us, and I was right. I made my focus on leadership, reading all the books, watching all the lectures, figuring out what it truly meant to be a good leader and serve my people. I had to put in the work and forge my own path, because nothing was guaranteed for me.
Being a leader of over 120 people at a time has given me a real window into our broken system, specifically in Rensselaer county where I have lived and worked for the past several years. Whether it was the young daughter who lost their mother to the opioid epidemic, deeply affecting my understanding of what our families have dealt with. Or my own family getting caught up in the heroin epidemic, ripping our family apart. I’ve been witness to an employee crawling up the stairs, after injuring their ankle at home, begging not to be sent home, because not only do they lack healthcare, but to take a day off would mean not making rent. Or the people I’ve helped sign up with the local food pantry when they didn’t have enough to eat. Or the hundreds of birthday cakes I have made for the children in my community, starting Upstate Cakes for Kids for families that don’t have enough money to afford food let alone purchase a birthday cake for their child. I’ve listened to those who talk about their childcare and housing costs eating up their paychecks, forcing them to work a second job. I’ve heard their stories of being evicted, their struggle to live paycheck to paycheck, their battles with mental health issues, and their turn to drugs and alcohol to dim their pain. I see everyday how much our people are hurting, and I don't see anyone coming to help.
This is why I’m running for office. Our politicians have ignored us for too long. We need leaders at all levels of government that understand what our people have been up against, and that are ready to fight to make it better for all of us. I have the experience, the perspective, and the insight into the daily lives of our working people, and I am ready to fight for us, because my future is just as much at stake as everyone I am running to represent.
I hope you will join me in my effort to bring real representation and change to the lives of the working people of our community.
Candidate for NYS 107th Assembly District