2017 City Council Screening Questionnaire
Candidate Name: Christopher Marte Council District # 01
If there is a Campaign office(s), is it wheelchair accessible? Yes Campaign Address: 356 Broadway, LL12 martenyc.com
Political: Downtown Independent Democrats, Village Independent Democrats, Village Reform Democratic Club
Community: Rory Mondshein, Former Community Board 2 Chair David Gruber
Labor: Local 28, Local 46
Action Shows Commitment!
What have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?. I have two people with disabilities working on my campaign team this summer because I believe in equal opportunities for everyone regardless of disability. I have advocated for more senior housing, more health care facilities especially since the Rivington House scandal, and for more community engagement.
Will you only attend / sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities (PWDs including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible? Due to the historic tenement buildings in District 1, I cannot promise that I will not attend events that happen in these buildings, though many of them are not accessible to people with disabilities. I promise that I will host events that are accessible to people with disabilities whenever possible without cutting off residents of the tenement buildings. I promise that my materials and speeches will be formatted so that they can be understood by everyone .
Local Law 28 requires City department and agency “advertising and other materials pertaining to public events to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities” but it does not include elected officials or Community Boards. Do you believe the law should be amended to include electeds and Community Boards? In the absence of an amendment to Local Law 28, would you voluntarily comply? I support this law because Community Boards and elected officials should be accessible to the entire community. I will voluntarily comply.
I I. General Questions:
What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities? I have been an active volunteer with Barrier Free Living, the Bowery Mission, and Elizabeth Street Garden, where people with disabilities attend programs and receive services, and hosted bingo and game night with New York Cares.
What would be your strategy to work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the City Council?. Talking with many of the residents in my District who are disabled, I have a close understanding of the obstacles they face in their everyday lives. Our busiest subway stations do not have elevators, and we have few bus stops - making public transportation inaccessible to residents with physical disabilities. Through enacting participatory budgeting, I will have an inclusive process where the disabled community can vote to fund infrastructure changes that can better the accessibility of Lower Manhattan.
How will you use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections for persons with disabilities?. Our current Councilmember has a reputation for not promptly responding to residents’ phone calls and emails. This is disenfranchising for the entire community, but especially those with disabilities because their complaints and concerns can be more urgent. My campaign has a 24 hour response rate for all emails and phone calls we receive, and I will continue this policy when I am in office so that I am always available and held accountable to residents.
Will all events planned by your office be accessible with all material including the appropriate accessibility symbols (such as the wheelchair, ASL CART, etc)? All public events hosted by my office will be fully accessible to those with physical disabilities, and will include ASL interpreters and CART.
What is your position on the development of supported apartments/homes for people with disabled in your borough?.
The incumbent intends to erect senior housing where there is currently a community garden that is one of the only open green spaces in my District. However I have organized with neighbors who want to preserve the garden and developed a proposal for an empty lot that is capable of housing 5 times as many people. These apartments are much needed in our District because so much of our housing is not accessible to the elderly, many of which have disabilities. I will be proactive in identifying more vacant lots or under-used spaces in order to increase the amount of apartments that are available for people with disabilities.
Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of “visitability” in the Building Code?. I fully support visitability guidelines, and have heard first hand complaints that these guidelines would resolve. I will push for legislation that makes new construction take this into account because it will drastically improve the quality of life for many residents.
What will you do to expand affordable wheelchair accessible transportation in NYC, express buses, and shuttles, more accessible subway stations, etc The most crowded subway stations in the Lower East Side do not have elevators. I will support and advocate for funding that makes these stops accessible to all residents. The stairs at these stations are worn down, narrow, and dangerous to many physically disabled and elderly residents who are able to go down them. I will support a full assessment of the accessibility of public transportation in the District, and actively work to resolve these longstanding issues.
Access-A-Ride (AAR) users experience unnecessarily long trips, causing users to be late for work and appointments. Users have been stranded and penalized as a "no-show" when the vehicle never arrived. Riders who complain report they have been subject to retaliation. What would you do to improve the quality of service?. I will use technology through an app or hotline that can bring more transparency to AAR. When vehicles do not arrive, users can immediately report the delay or “no-show” in order to bring more accountability to the system and improve it.
VI. Community Boards:
Do you support requiring all Community Board meetings and functions to be accessible, including requiring sign language interpreters and large print format material? Yes. I also support creating live video streams of the meetings so those that cannot attend in-person can still watch the meeting.
How many people with disabilities have/will you appoint to your local Community Board? I will appoint as people with disabilities to the Community Board based on how many positions are open and making sure that their voices are heard .
VII. Discretionary Funds:
Will you use your discretionary funds to support organizations serving PWDS or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to PWDS? Yes.
What steps do you think NYC should take to encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible? I believe the City should promote small businesses that make their stores more accessible, and provide information to business owners to make them more aware of the challenges their stores might pose to a person with disabilities.
How would you ensure that emergency evacuation for PWDS provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of PWDs in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situation? I will work with local organizations like LES Ready, building leaders, and community activists to make sure that they are aware of the people with disabilities that live around them, and are equipped to help them in the event of an emergency. I will also propose a voluntary database to which people with disabilities can provide their contact information and address so that my office can follow up on their well-being in emergencies.
X. Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)
a. Mayor Bloomberg elevated the Director of the (MOPD) to a Commissioner without any increase in budget. How would you ensure that city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD?. I will elevate and communicate with MOPD to make sure that they are a part of all relevant issues and legislation.
How do you believe the City Council should enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts?. I will be an active voice in the Council, whether it’s protesting outside of the Department of Buildings or writing letters and resolutions to address changes that need to be implemented. I want to bring more transparency to the City Council, and will be vigilant in my oversight of city departments and agencies.
Date: July 29, 2017