DISTRICT 32 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
Solidarity with Kenichi Wilson & Raimondo Graziano Regarding Putting Community First Amidst Their Respective Petition Challenges & Lawsuits
KALED ALAMARIE CAMPAIGN – FELICIA SINGH CAMPAIGN – SHAELEIGH SEVERINO CAMPAIGN – RUBEN CRUZ CAMPAIGN – KENICHI WILSON CAMPAIGN – RAIMONDO GRAZIANO CAMPAIGN
I want to thank all the candidates involved in putting this together – a show of unity in the race for District 32. I had the privilege of coordinating these joint statements of solidarity regarding the race, our community, and our district.
Thank you to Kaled Alamarie and his Campaign Manager, Eric Tien, for setting up the initial meeting between all our campaigns that spurred this on.
Thank you to the Felicia Singh campaign and her Campaign Manager, Steph Caballero for signing on.
Thank you to Ruben Cruz and Shaeleigh Severino as well for signing on to these statements.
This is a great act of solidarity that is evidence of all of our commitments to democracy, ethics, integrity and fair elections; AND a firm rebuke of political games played at the expense of the voters of the district.
My name is Kenichi Wilson, and I want to talk about our community and the upcoming Democratic Primary election this June 22nd. Community is what elections are about. Commitment to people is what holding elected office is all about. Putting community first. I’ve been a member of this district and this community for most of my life, I’ve given my time and my all in working for the community and for the good people of District 32. My entire life has been about putting community first and this is what my parents taught me, and it’s a way of thinking that I’ve carried with me all these years.
In the last year, I’ve seen immense heartache and great challenges for the people of my community. Many have lost loved ones, their livelihoods, have grown hungry and their sense of security has been lost. I had to close my business because of COVID and my days were spent thinking to myself: who is going to care for my family? How am I going to meet my obligations? Who is going to care for all of those who have been affected by this crisis? How will my friends and neighbors overcome this?
Duty comes to mind here. We all have a duty to each other, an obligation as neighbors, to care for one another and to, above all, watch over each other as family. That is what putting community first means.
My sense of community has never been stronger than it has in the last year. This commitment to my community led me to run for City Council in District 32. My home. I saw before me a field of candidates, qualified and with bold ideas. I thought I should take a chance and throw my name into the race and give the voters of this district another option in the most consequential election in our city’s recent history. All people must be given options, diverse options as to who will represent them and the community. I looked forward to competing in the marketplace of ideas.
One candidate in particular had a different approach. Through lawsuits and political games he sought to knock myself and Raimondo Graziano, off of the ballot. He succeeded in his efforts by suing the New York City Board of Elections and I. He succeeded in limiting the options that voters will have come this June. He abided by the law, yes. But his ethics and his character speak volumes. The law, while written, is not always just. This we all know too well. I won’t spend much longer speaking on the actions of one man to limit the choice that the people this community have. I will say – come this election, to the people of District 32 – know who you are voting for. You are not only voting for the direction of your district and City, but you are voting on the character of an individual. This June, and this November – vote your conscience and your convictions.
I will not be deterred. I will remain firmly here, in the community, fighting for each and every one of you. At the end of the day, politics and governing are not about power and games — they are about people and their needs. I will continue to advocate for the people of my community and be a voice for fairness, ethics, and integrity. I am resolved to do so. Thank you for supporting me, and remember – vote your conscience, vote your convictions and community comes first!
I believe that elections are about choice. The choice voters have over the direction of their city and of their communities. That is the same nationally as it is locally. This election is our city’s most consequential in a lifetime. It is imperative that the voters be given the choice as to who will lead them, aided by a broad slate of qualified candidates with the community solely in mind.
I decided to run for this very reason. I care about my country, I care about my community and I care about all of the people in it. I want what is best for my neighbors and for the people of the district as a whole. I sought to be in the arena, to advocate and to fight for my community – to put my community first. I looked forward to engaging in the marketplace of ideas with my fellow candidates in a fair and ethical election with integrity.
A fellow candidate in the race did indeed seek to knock myself and Kenichi, Mr. Wilson, off the ballot. He succeeded in his efforts. But not in deterring myself or Mr. Wilson, if I can speak for him for a moment. Not in deterring us in our commitment to put our communities over politics. Rather, he succeeded in limiting the choice for voters. That’s about all the time I’d like to give to this individual. What I want to focus on now is my community. Working for my community and its interests, fighting for their voice to be heard, for their issues to be paid attention to, and fighting for them to be seen. I will continue to do just that. My great-grandfather was a World War II veteran. He taught me the values of honesty, integrity, hard work, community, family – values that are missing from the world, and from our public discourse. I honor his memory and the memory of that great generation by living these values, and by rising above the muck and focusing on what’s important.
To the people of District 32, you have a choice this election come June 22nd, and you have a choice in November. Vote your conscience, vote your values and vote for integrity. The City of New York is counting on you. I look forward to speaking with each and every one of you very soon. Thank you.
At the beginning of this race, I took the pledge along with Felicia, Raimondo, Kenichi, Ruben, and Shaeleigh to not challenge each other’s petitions. The voters should be the ones to decide who represents District 32, not the courts. The challenges that have resulted in Raimondo’s and Kenichi’s tentative departure from this race are an affront to this election. Petitioning posed a particular challenge this year due to the pandemic, and to use the court system to strip the voters of their choice is undemocratic.
NYers voted overwhelmingly for Ranked Choice Voting, a system that discourages negative campaigning, gives more choice and power to voters, and supports the potential for representation for previously marginalized communities. Rather than allow that process to play out and let voters’ voices be heard, a candidate opted to take that possibility away from all of us.
We, the candidates, are all part of this community too. Mike Scala intentionally chose to put someone in debt rather than allow voters to make their own choices. This impacts Kenny’s whole family, his housing stability, and his children’s future. I know exactly what it’s like to be drowning in debt with my housing at-risk due to the leveraging of archaic and ruthless laws. Our leaders are supposed to help prevent that experience. Mike Scala has said that ‘principles matter,’ and that ‘working people deserve better than leadership that needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to our side.’ But whose side are you on exactly? I trust that the voters in District 32 know who will truly fight for them above all else in City Hall.
Politics as usual. Voter suppression tactics, like knocking candidates off the ballot, is just politics as usual. Independent minded candidates and third parties are being thrown off the ballot all the time and the odds are stacked against them.
But is this what we want? We are facing an election year with the opportunity to remake the way local government runs. With the seats of Mayor, Comptroller, Borough Presidents, Public Advocate and virtually an entirely new City Council, we have a chance to right the wrongs of our current system and truly make this ‘Our City.’
I’ve reached out to each and every candidate to encourage us to work together regardless of the fact that we are all applying for the same job. I don’t believe you will see this kind of solidarity amongst fellow candidates in any other district. Many of us have committed to show that if we can work together now, we can work together regardless of who wins this election.