Congressional Contenders

Radhakrishna Mohan

On our final Congressional Contenders episode, we are happy to present Radhakrishna Mohan, a civic leader and Executive Board member of the New York State Public Employees Federation. Mohan is running in the Democratic primary for New York’s 11th Congressional District, which represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the House of Representatives.

Mohan discussed his lifelong Union background, both in India and Staten Island, and his experience organizing on a state-wide level. We talked about the role Unions play in being a watchdog for dangerous federal policies, and how a Unionist congressman can bring together Unions to fight for more organizing power. We also discussed how investing in high-tech jobs and infrastructure can help balance our ballooning public debt and federal trade imbalances, how to combat the Opioid crisis on Staten Island, and how we can position Staten Island and Brooklyn to reinvent itself with new cultural institutions and tourism.

Finally, as always, we want to remind all our listeners and readers that petitioning season is nearly upon us, beginning March 6th. Registered Democrats will have one chance to sign a candidates petition to put them on the primary ballot for this year’s elections. You can only sign for one candidate, and if you sign for more than one, only your first choice counts. Be sure to get familiar with each candidate and get an idea of who you’ll be most willing to sign for as canvassers begin hitting the streets on March 6th… and consider volunteering to be a canvasser yourself by reaching out to the campaign that interests you the most.

Mohan talking with us in the Radio Free Bay Ridge studio.

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Radhakrishna Mohan”

Congressional Contenders

Omar Vaid

Today on the show we’re welcoming Omar Vaid as we begin to wrap up our Congressional Contenders series. Omar is one of the seven Democratic primary candidates for NY11, our House of Representatives seat covering Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Also joining us today is our special guest host and local journalist Kadia Goba. Kadia is filling in for Rachel, who’s stepping aside for today’s interview since Rachel is currently employed as Omar’s Communications Director.

Omar spoke with us about the centrality of Unions to his campaign, as well as his core message of protectionism for American industry. We also spent time discussing how unions intersect with healthcare, social security, congestion pricing and education. Finally, we touch on the similarities between Omar’s use of social media and how he intends to use his Congressional seat to call out lobbyists and advocate for change.

Finally, Kadia and Dan spend a bit of time at the beginning of the episode talking about the upcoming Democratic Party petitioning process and how we can make it more equitable and fair by advocating for voter awareness early on in the primary season.

Omar Vaid protesting in support of his union, IATSE. Photo courtesy Omar Vaid for Congress.

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Omar Vaid”

Congressional Contenders

Max Rose

Swinging by the studio today is Max Rose on our sixth Congressional Contenders episode. We’ll sit down for a discussion with Max, who is running in the Democratic primary for NY11, the (for now) Republican controlled House of Representatives district covering Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Each candidate in the series had unlimited time to talk about their issues and ideas, but most importantly the facts, concepts and details that lay behind those ideas and their beliefs.

Max Rose spoke with us about the centrality of public safety to a holistic social-services overhaul that threads through healthcare, Opioid addiction, gun violence, policing, infrastructure, and more. We also got into the weeds on criminal justice reform, especially the Conviction Review Unit that Max observed first-hand while working for the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

A quick reminder as well that all candidates will begin petitioning registered Democrats in the district this March, seeking to gain enough signatures to get on the ballot for the primary. You can only sign once, so start getting a feel for each candidate and if you are particularly impressed, reach out and help to engage more voters and help your candidate move forward past petitioning! Remember it isn’t just about the candidates… this is your opportunity to build experience in local politics as well, and making your voice heard!

Max Rose hanging out with Dan and Rachel

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Max Rose”

Congressional Contenders

Paul Sperling

Today we welcome Paul Sperling to the fifth episode of our Congressional Contenders series. In this continuing series, we sit down for a no-time-limit discussion with each candidate running in the Democratic primary this summer for New York’s 11th Congressional district, representing Staten Island and South Brooklyn. We asked each candidate to talk with us about their platform, their ideas, and most importantly the facts and issues that they think their constituents should know in the upcoming primary.

Paul Sperling swung by the studio to discuss his plans for improved rail infrastructure, workers cooperatives, bringing large employers to Staten Island, and improving healthcare in the district. We also touch on the green economy, cannabis legalization, and improving education in the district with debt forgiveness, free trade schools, and more school construction and hiring.

A quick reminder as well that all candidates will begin petitioning this March, seeking to gain enough signatures to get on the ballot for the primary. So reach out to the candidate that you’re rooting for and help with the petitioning drive to engage more voters for the upcoming primary and help your candidate move forward to the next round!

Paul Sperling chats with Rachel in the studio

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Paul Sperling”

Congressional Contenders

Zach Emig

We’re pressing on with the fourth part of our Congressional Contenders series. We sit down for a no-time-limit discussion with each of the Democratic primary looking to represent South Brooklyn and Staten Island in Washington D.C. We asked each candidate to talk with us about the issues that most motivate them. Join us as we dive deep into their proposals and get to know more about them.

Our guest today is Zach Emig, an MIT engineering graduate and bond trader. Zach announced his candidacy all the way back in May of last year. We’ll discuss Zach’s long haul on the NY11 campaign trail and dig into his “Narrows Agenda” for improving the district. We’ll discuss corporate and income taxes, the opioid epidemic, technology, and immigration. We also touch on the partisan rancor that is affecting national and local politics, and how to solve it.

Zach Emig standing next to Radio Free Bay Ridge co-hosts Dan Hetteix and Rachel Brody.
Zach Emig with Dan and Rachel before the recording.

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Zach Emig”

Uncut Recording

Jeremi Suri at Poly Prep

A few months ago, Poly Prep reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in recording a new, public event series called Context: Conversations at Poly Prep. The first lecture, with professor and historian Jeremi Suri, was a quick but wide-ranging lecture discussing the evolution of the Office of the President throughout American History as discussed in his new book The Impossible Presidency. While the subject isn’t necessarily local, we were thrilled to bring you a progressive, thoughtful lecture given locally at an institution with over 100 years of history in the neighborhood (and to pal around with the excellent Bookmark Shoppe too!).

I always remembered, as a kid, being taken by my grandfather to go throw bagels at the ducks at the Poly Prep pond (By the way, folks, don’t do that! It’s terrible for the ducks. There are signs now. Probably because of me. Sorry.) But it always was a mysterious entity for much of my life, and a closed campus. So we are very excited to see the institution open its gates and beautiful campus to the neighborhood and provide a much-needed event space for lectures and discussions. You can sign up for future events on their calendar or monitor their Twitter feed.

Continue reading “Special Edition! Jeremi Suri at Poly Prep”

Congressional Contenders

Mike DeCillis

Update: Mike DeCills has withdrawn from the race as of February 26th. He gave his endorsement to Michael DeVito Jr. on March 6th, 2018.

February is beginning to heat up! March is approaching, which means it’s time for our Democratic primary candidates to begin preparing for petitioning. To help you choose which candidates you might want to volunteer for or support, we’re bringing you part three of our Congressional Contenders series.

Our guest today is Mike DeCillis, a former EMT, retired police officer, and an attorney and special-ed teacher. We’ll discuss Mike’s long career including deep-dives into healthcare, pharmaceuticals, police training, vocational education and disability rights, and labor law. We also touch on immigration advocacy and the state of Democratic politics on Staten Island.

Mike teaching a class. Photo courtesy Mike DeCillis for Congress, 2018.

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Mike DeCillis”

Episode 5

Bay Ridge's 'Little City Hall'

For progressives and activists in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and beyond, our local Community Board is an often overlooked vestige of community empowerment that is crying out for more engagement. In our wonkiest episode yet, we’ll introduce our local Community Board Ten and explore it from all sides. We’ll hear from political aides, long-time board members, and activists. Along the way, we’ll dive into the strange, bureaucratic history of the boards and help explain why they function the way they do.

There are many ways to get involved! For the brave, you can apply to be on the board (applications are due February 15th!), attend local committee meetings, and represent your local civic or activist groups at public meeting sessions. So get a taste of what’s involved by listening in to our brand-new episode!

Community Board 10 District Office on 5th Avenue

Continue reading “Episode 5: Bay Ridge’s ‘Little City Hall’”

Congressional Contenders

Michael DeVito Jr.

It’s 2018, which means the Democratic primary for NY Congressional District 11, which includes Staten Island and South Brooklyn, will be getting into gear soon!

Our first guest for the New Year is Michael DeVito Jr., a former Staff Sergeant in the Marines in addition to a non-profit director focusing on at-risk youth.  In light of that, we spent alot of time with Michael looking at his congressional run through the lens of mediation and conflict resolution. We spoke in detail about how a more empathetic approach could kickstart Federal programs in transit infrastructure, pharmaceutical reform, workforce development, the green economy, and more.

Michael DeVito Jr. in the studio with Rachel and Mary.

Continue reading “Congressional Contenders: Michael DeVito Jr.”

Episode 4

A School Of Our Own

In Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, our public schools are overcrowded. Lack of space, a mostly residential building stock, and little turnover… it has made the district a difficult place to build a school. There is hope, however. Our new City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, campaigned on a single promise: to construct a new school in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights within his first term. Can it be done?

In our newest studio episode, we dig deep into the weeds of educational policy and school construction with some guidance from our newest Radio Free Bay Ridge team member, Erik Shell. With Erik’s help, we’ll look at the demographics data that reinforces our need for a new school, counter some myths and raise some warning flags about co-location and charter schools claiming they can solve overcrowding, and discuss our most pressing and time-sensitive issue: finding space for the school. We are also joined in the studio by our City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, who will give us a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s advocating for a new school and how he intends to keep his promise for a new school within four years.

Justin Brannan, Rachel and Dan pose in the studio while discussing how to build a new school in Bay Ridge.
Justin Brannan, in the house! (Well, studio.)

Continue reading “Episode 4: A School Of Our Own”