In this day and age, it can be easy for Americans to not to have faith in politics. After all, the last 4 years have only divided America further. However, given 2020 is an election year, many are rushing to the polls to elect candidates in an effort to bridge the divide and heal America before it is too late. A local case of this can be seen in New York City’s District 31, specifically its recent elections for district assemblyman.
Khaleel Anderson, a Queens College alum with a BA/MA in Urban Studies, has become the youngest candidate in 20 years to be elected to the NYC District Assembly serving District 31. Anderson has always been active in his community, as his most recent service includes serving as a community board member and activist in his native home of Far Rockaway. This begs the question, what was the driving force behind Anderson’s path to victory?
Anderson was inspired to go into public service/activism at very young age, both of his parents were deeply involved in community activism. Anderson also attributes his willingness to serve to the belief that young people deserve a seat at the table.
It’s worth mentioning that Anderson was also a youth organizer for a non-profit community based organization, the Rockaway Youth Task Force, which consists of young people engaging in community activism as well as encouraging other young people to do the same.
His core platform consists of criminal justice, housing resources and youth programs. Anderson feels that working on these issues will ultimately improve the wellbeing of the community overall.
Anderson also expressed his concerns about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He mentions that the first solution to improving the MTA is establishing a fair pay rate, wherein riders will pay the same exact fair regardless of which service they use (bus, train, etc.).
In addition to transportation and criminal justice, Anderson emphasized that healthcare is another issue that has been plaguing the state, city, and District 31. He mentioned a bill, “The NYS Health Act”, which he hopes the New York State Senate will pass. The benefits of the clinics across the city, especially District 31, will have greater access to city/state funding which will help them to create programs to ensure that undocumented and uninsured individuals are able to have access to basic level healthcare including primary care doctor.
When asked about his take on the current economic affairs of his district, Anderson expressed that small businesses are essential to providing people with much needed jobs that will increase the overall employment rate within District 31 and the rest of the city. Like many, Anderson firmly believes that small businesses are the economic engine of the city and its neighborhoods.
Anderson contends that the first step to stimulating the economy in his district is to provide lower-cost loans which make it easier for individuals within the community to open their own businesses. As a result, higher numbers of high-school students and college students will be able to be hired and for business owners to offer good salaries. When employed, these students will be able to support their families and gain job experience which will be very useful for future careers.
Lastly, Anderson made note to mention his stance on education. District 31, along with the rest of the city, is currently dealing with high dropout rates in its high schools, coupled with underfunded/overcrowded schools. Anderson says that the first solution is to make academia relevant to all forms of employment including employment in the trade sector. One way to do this is that all schools (especially high schools) give students the option to take classes in a trade/skill such as woodwork, I.T., and other skills that can be applied to different careers within skilled trades such as construction, industrial, and others. Anderson explains that this will allow for students who do not have the means to enter higher education, can then enter the job market to develop themselves.
One can hope that with progressive candidates such as Khaleel Anderson, that enough change may be generated to make for a better society.