Photo Courtesy: The Diana Reyna Campaign
By Linda Nwoke
Diana Reyna is a New Yorker with over two decades of experience in politics. She served as the immediate past Deputy Brooklyn Borough President for the first four years under now Mayor Eric Adams and, for twelve years, served in the New York City Council representing the 34th District. But now, Ms. Reyna is the running mate for U.S. Representative Thomas Suozzi’s Governorship candidacy for the position of the Lieutenant Governor of New York in the 2022 election.
What should New Yorkers expect? Why is she running for the position? What qualities set her apart from other competitors, and what qualifies her for this position? These were some of the questions Caribbean American Weekly asked the first Dominican-American woman to be elected into New York’s public office.
Listen to Caribbean American Weekly’s interview with Diana Reyna below:
It is important to me to see the New York I need for my children and our families. The opportunity to be able to provide New York with proven leadership. I have the executive and the legislative skills our state requires to be redirected into the forward path. We have out-of-control crime and public safety issues. The Washington Post considers New York state the most corrupt state in the United States, and people deserve better.
Vision for New York & Priorities
We have to address public safety because that is precisely what we’ve repeatedly been hearing. The issue of bail reform needs fixing. We cannot be too proud to say we did something wrong, and we have to try to understand where the fix is necessary. We need to allow judges to look at history when they’re reviewing cases before them. Working with law enforcement, judges, district attorneys, and prosecutors isn’t one person’s job. This requires all of us, including the public. If the public does not invest in the process, we cannot address public safety.
It allows me to be able to address affordability in our state. Over 300,000 people have left New York just last year alone. And when people go, it’s because something’s wrong. Since 1957, we have had 45 congressional districts in New York. Today we have 27 congressional districts. We are losing one more. We’re down to 26 congressional districts. We lose federal funding when we lose congressional districts and have a $220 billion state budget.
If we have fewer people, our taxes will continue to go sky high, more sales tax, higher gasoline tax, and electricity bills. These taxes are drawn, driving New York out of the middle class, and the poor are squeezed into communities. We have to do better about the affordability crisis that we’re experiencing in New York. We’re not investing in what would be the wealth gap. Owning something in New York is very important to families and providing for them is critical. Homeownership opportunity requires an affordability conversation.
Education and NYC’s Segregated System
Education is in a crisis. We’re not talking about education that lost two years because of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, we had 66% of students leaving college and not finishing with debt. Before that, they already were experiencing a two-year gap in education. Our educational content must align with where our children need to be.
We have to fix our troubled schools and build an educational system that will provide them with career skills. We have to invest in prevention and intervention programs in the schools and advance our curriculum and support. People want to see more parental representation in the Parent Educational Plans (PEPs)
The opportunities to improve schools shift the school’s interest, and then we start to see a more integrated school. But you cannot address the racial and ethnic segregation issues if we’re not improving our schools. Open enrollment is only going to exacerbate the schools that are doing well. So, what we have to do is raise the standards. We have to ensure that we provide our teachers the adequate training, and we need more state aid coming into our schools.
We also must remember that we have to start inspecting what we expect from our government. Assess the opportunities to have advanced curriculum, dual language, and global education in our educational system. That should be the standard across every school. Leadership in these schools is also critical. It’s setting a climate of excellence for every school, not just some schools.
New York’s Failing Health Care System Failing Minorities & Plans to Address This Inequity?
If we look at our health indicators, they’re in the same communities where we have safety-net hospitals. Those are the publicly funded hospitals that are always underfunded. So that’s the first order of business.
It’s funding and investing in these hospitals’ infrastructure on the Upper East Side. You have a first responding vehicle that can reverse a stroke within the first 72 hours of an instance of a stroke. But you don’t find it in Bushwick, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where the stroke is the highest indicator in all of the city of New York.
And so, when we think of our health care, let’s look at measures and resources. What is maintained in other communities that helps people live longer, and we have to learn from that and then take that model and apply it is where needed most. We have to triage our health care system to function for patients to access dental, vision, and primary care. We also need to consider preventative measures, look at the person’s medical history, and have coordinated medical care.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Race
I am very confident that the people will vote for a proven leader, executive, and people that know how to govern. And being an activist is not necessarily how you manage. Tom Suozzi [running mate for Governor] and I are experienced leaders and have a very unified approach. We want to engage people, to get them involved and remain involved. And being able to run with someone that understands these issues like me is very important. Tom Suozzi and I are running independently, but together, understanding that people will want leadership that know how to govern.
Thoughts on the Brian Benjamin, former the Lieutenant Governor Arrested on Campaign Fraud and Resigning, and the Effect on Her Campaign
I think it affected Governor Hochul’s campaign more than mine. She now has a credibility issue. Her selection was her first order of business in the state of New York. She gave Brian Benjamin authority to oversee the budget negotiations and the power to preside over the Senate and represent her administration. That speaks volumes of her bad judgment, leadership, and integrity. The odds as far as lieutenant governor for me have risen. But I cannot tell you how saddened it makes me, and I feel for Brian Benjamin’s family.
Endorsements and Support for Candidacy
So, I have received the endorsement of former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. I have received Councilmember Bob Holden’s approval and Tom’s. I received IBEW Local Three, Local 25, Local 1049, UAW Local One and Two Brotherhood of Railroad Signalman Local 56. And we’re working towards D.C. 37. We’re working towards UFT and peers in government.
Ours is a campaign that welcomes everyone’s endorsement. If you believe in what we’re talking about and want to discuss ideas for moving our state forward, we would like to meet with you. If you have an opportunity that you think will drive economic activity in this state so that it can create jobs, an idea to invest in our schools, we welcome that. We need everyone involved in this campaign. Follow me on social media @Reyna4NY.