The Candidates 2021: Maud Maron for CD1

This is the sixth in a series of short interviews with candidates for City Council District 1 along with their responses to a very long questionnaire based on reader questions. As these roll out, I will link to the posts on other candidates at the bottom.

In her years on the District 2 Community Education Council, Maud Maron saw how a very few number of people managed to control the conversation — and claim to represent the community even when the overwhelming number of people were in opposition. The frustration that came with that is part of what drove her to run for the local City Council seat.

“It made smoke come out of my ears,” she said, by way of example, of the arguments against the SHSAT — the test that qualifies kids for the city’s eight specialized high schools. “People would come out in support of it in droves, yet decisions would be made without considering those voices. You have to be willing to talk to people you disagree with to make good decisions. Instead we live in a time where if you offer an opinion different than someone, they try to shame you.”

Maron has worked as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society — she went to Barnard and then Cardozo — for 20 years, with a few breaks built in for kids, and took a sabbatical in 2019 to run for office (by coincidence so did her suitemate, Eliza Orlins, who is running for Manhattan DA). She and her husband, an Argentinian immigrant, are raising four kids in Soho — now ages 4 to 14. She was born here in the city, but her mother and stepfather moved the family to Pennsylvania when she was a young girl.

In fact it was her parents’ marriage — her mom is Lutheran and her father is Jewish; she and her mother converted — that has partially motivated her to take on especially divisive issues. When some relatives cut her father off when he married a non-Jew, she saw what that kind of intolerance could do to a family. She sees that writ large in today’s times.

“Someone has to say the unpopular thing and face the blowback in order to get things done for this city,” she said. “I’ll say the same thing to every group, whether they like it or not, when it’s the right thing to do.”

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SMALL BUSINESS & RESTAURANTS
New York City needs to grow its way to post-pandemic prosperity. We need to support the existing small businesses of our city, and create a climate which encourages other businesses to open and expand in NYC. Small businesses account for nearly 50% of the private sector employment in NYC. The Battery Park City/Tribeca/Greenwich Village/Soho neighborhood with nearly 30,000 retail jobs accounts for 8.6% of the citywide total.

In the past year, NYS and NYC responses to the pandemic have resulted in the loss of one third of small businesses–and it is all too apparent downtown. Crushing commercial real estate taxes that get passed on to businesses coupled with unnecessarily complex regulations and arbitrary fines have added to the difficulty of operating during the last year. Regulatory burdens alone can actually shutter small businesses. Local businesses have had to contend with unjust fines from the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing (OATH) while trying to survive the lockdown.

The changes concerning closures and reopenings have been rightfully frustrating for many establishments, particularly restaurants. When the changing rules and the timelines are not grounded in data-backed public health science or common sense, they can seem almost monarchical. Our small businesses face vast and prohibitive bureaucratic burdens and obstacles. To address this, we need to elect representatives who work with, not against, our local businesses.

Additionally we must ensure that the federal money in the latest stimulus actually makes its way to the businesses it is designed to help. We saw with PPE loans and programs that some neighborhoods were cut off from the relief they needed to survive. Council members must work with local businesses to make sure they know how to access available funds and make the process as manageable as possible — particularly within our immigrant communities.

QUALITY OF LIFE & PUBLIC SAFETY
Quality of life concerns are intricately tied to public safety. We need more community policing, more street patrols and a more substantial police subway presence. We need to change the permission structure in NYC that says that it’s acceptable to break some laws. It has made our city less safe, less clean, and less inviting to those of us who live here or anyone who would want to visit. I have spoken with the police and sanitation unions and they need personnel to do the job they want to do and we need them to do.

We need to budget with these priorities in mind. There are too many areas of spending in our budget to be cutting corners on safety and sanitation programs. For example, the budget for THRIVE NYC has now exceeded well over $1billion, and yet the program has continually failed to deliver mental health programming or necessary services to help our most vulnerable New Yorkers—the long term homeless. This kind of inefficient and ineffective spending that NYC can simply not afford. For $1 billion, New Yorkers should see actual results.

We also need a comprehensive homeless policy that does not pit neighborhoods against each other. The current policy which has resulted in the city paying close to $43,000 per year per homeless adult and over $70,000 per year per family has resulted in a GROWING homeless population in NYC instead of solving the problem of long term homelessness. It is a failed policy and must be completely overhauled.

We must end the misguided plan of putting the homeless in hotels. Right now, NYC has more than 10,000 homeless individuals living in 63 hotels. To attract tourists we can’t just support luxury hotels but must provide a range of price points for travelers. And to have our budget accommodations filled with the homeless is neither sensible for the homeless who need long term stability and services, nor local businesses that need a pipeline of travelers, nor for our city’s budget.

TAXES & AFFORDABLE HOUSING
We need a booming economy to build our tax base by making sure NYC remains a place people want to live and visit. We do that by supporting the small businesses that make a city thrive, making sure families can rely on a great public school system which delivers high quality academics, and ensuring public safety on our streets and subway. We also must make sure homeownership remains affordable. Reducing property taxes–which happens in Albany, not City Council–is an important step and city council members can and should lend support for property tax reductions.

New York City is still a destination for the entrepreneurial and the artistic and we need to keep it that way. New York regularly benefits from “new New Yorkers” and the energy, intelligence and passion that comes with new arrivals. My husband is an immigrant from Argentina, who has built a business here. I see everyday the drive and determination that New York City benefits from when immigrants choose to make New York City their home and invest in our city.

To continue attracting people to our city we must ensure that our city is not deteriorating. Clean safe streets and subways, excellent public schools and streets lined with open, vibrant storefronts are the hallmark of a city with a future, a city worth investing in.
Taxing our way out of a deficit won’t work. Particularly in our new pandemic reality where so many jobs have now become remote. People will relocate before being overtaxed and underserved. NYC needs to attract and retain its taxpayers, not take them for granted.

CRISIS IN OUR SCHOOLS
As a public school mom who has despaired about the struggle to get my kids back to school full time, I have watched other states, led by Republicans and Democrats alike, do a better job than New York State in navigating the COVID pandemic. It has made me even more convinced that we must be willing to accept a multitude of ideas, work with people and institutions regardless of party, and simply focus on common sense policies that will help us get our schools open and get our city back on the right track.

This is a critical time for NYC. We need smart, common sense solutions, not partisan politics, if we are going to change the troubling direction our city is heading in. Our school system is one reason so many families are leaving NYC. It is no longer responsive to what parents say they want and need for their children’s education. We can fix that by listening to parents and expanding, rather than shrinking, the programs that work most successfully.

The most anti-racist program in the world is literacy and in a city where only 46% of children were on grade level for reading and writing pre-pandemic the most urgent concern we have is to improve the academic performance of our schools.

ECONOMY
We need to think big about the future of NYC. We must open up hotels, restaurants, theaters and other cultural institutions. There are now three highly effective Covid vaccines and it is time to prepare to move on with our lives. Prohibitive COVID anxiety must come to an end. Taking our temperatures at restaurants is quickly becoming performative much like making us take off our shoes to get on planes. Vaccines should remain free and easy to access.

We need our tourism to rebound. NYC has long been known as a safe city and we should guard that reputation by investing in smart police reforms and expanded community patrols.

LOCAL CONCERNS
I live on a cobblestone street! So I know how much we need to keep up maintenance. And I also support a get-tough policy on placard abuse and e-bikes. We need to let delivery services use e-bikes responsibly and protect pedestrians. Simple licensing requirements that acknowledge e-bikes are an important part of some businesses, but which also come with rules–no e-bikes on sidewalks–are warranted.

BOROUGH BASED JAIL & HISTORIC DISTRICTS
I oppose the borough based jail plan. It is both prohibitively expensive at the budgeted $8.7 billion (but likely much more) and also unlikely to solve for, or even meaningfully address, the very real concerns about the human rights abuses in city jails such as those at Rikers Island. Absurdly, the plan fails to build enough beds. The plan calls for the construction of 3,544 beds for a maximum use of 3,300 beds but NYC has NEVER incarcerated so few people and currently incarcerates closer to 5,000 inmates–even with Covid releases. The plan anticipates a drop in crime but does not plan for the possibility of a rise in crime such as the one we are currently experiencing.

The result of that poor planning will most likely mean Rikers will never close. It is inexcusably bad governance and it will cost NYers for generations to come. The borough based jail plan is a classic Bill deBlasio bad idea and we should say goodbye to it when we say goodbye to his mayoralty.

There is a much better way to build modern, humane, 21st century jails with sunlight and access to outdoors on Rikers Island for the detained. I am on the leadership committee of an organization that has a better plan, that is both compassionate for the incarcerated and smarter for our city. You can read about the plan here: https://realjusticesolutions.org

Downtown Historic Districts like South Street Seaport and Soho/Noho are part of our cultural inheritance and vital to our economy. We must protect them.

There is always more to discuss so I can be reached through my website: https://maudmaron.nyc

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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR CD1
Denny Salas
Christopher Marte
Tiffany Winbush
Susan Lee
Gigi Li

 

15 Comments

  1. This looks like a Republican platform to me: increase in police, cuts to homeless services and opposing new shelters and the life-saving step of housing homeless in hotels, tax cuts, opposing policies that promote racial integration in schools and basic culturally competent curricula for all students, “move on with our lives” as the pandemic continues to kill people every day. I really resent this ‘tell it like it is’ misdirection – your policies are harmful and it’s not being divisive to name that and oppose your candidacy.

    • The policy of putting homeless shelters into hotels is a bailout for real estate owners, who get nice risk-free leases w/ NYC DHS instead of losing money operating an empty property. That’s exactly why the Wooster one was proposed—the owner of the parking garage was losing money and it’s very risky to invest capital to redevelop the property in this market, so he responded to the DHS RFP in hopes of securing a lease that will guarantee him a decent return without any real risk.

      It’s simply not a sustainable strategy for fixing homelessness, which means it’s not a prudent use of city resources. At best, it’s extraordinarily divisive within the surrounding community. At worst, it’s bad for local businesses, it brings in crime and drugs, etc.

      • nyc, they are brainwashed. If they can’t see the crime and the fear in the city something is mentally wrong with them. Safer streets, trains and neighborhood is number #1 priority or there isn’t a NEW YORK.

    • No, this looks like common sense, and your comments make you seem brainwashed to party talking points. I can’t see how any rational observer would say the city is safe as is, or that the homeless are actually being helped by the current policies. As for covid killing people every day, perhaps you havent read the latest figures that show drastic declines, or the fact a vaccine is available to any adult that wants one. Its time

    • Maud you got my vote!!! Republican policies really Natalie? I guess you want to continue living in this hell of NEW YORK where criminals have more rights than communities. I don’t care what party she is a part of I want LAW & ORDER back here and and END to bail reform!! Our city is in trouble with the policies of our useless so called mayor and governor. We need to fight homeless hotels in our neighborhoods because of the quality of life. This party that I was always a part of has destroyed our city, with bail reform and putting criminals before communities. Defunding the police isn’t working well now is it!

  2. She seems way more concerned with property values and tourists $$ than the concerns of the full scope of New Yorkers, which include people who don’t have housing, and students in schools that have not given them the advantages that would allow them to rank highly in the SHSAT. Sometimes unpopular things are unpopular because they’re really bad, it’s not a virtue to support them. I always wonder when people are dismissive of covid anxiety, where they spent April and May 2020.

    • @Josh the city does have a program to help disadvantaged kids get into the specialized high schools. 20% of the seats are reserved for kids with lower shsat scores that completed the discovery program. from inside schools:
      “Diversity Initiative

      To increase integration at the specialized high schools, the DOE is expanding its Discovery Program, which gives some students who just missed the SHSAT cutoff score the opportunity to attend a specialized high school by completing a summer program prior to the start of 9th grade. By the summer of 2020, 20 percent of all seats at the eight specialized high schools that admit students based on the SHSAT will be reserved for students who complete the Discovery Program.

      To be eligible for the Discovery Program, a student must meet all of the following criteria:

      Applied to at least one specialized high school by taking the SHSAT;
      Be at least one of the following: from a low-income household, living in temporary housing or an English language learner who moved to the New York City within the past four years;
      Scored below the cutoff score on the SHSAT, but still within a certain range set by the DOE; and
      Attend a high poverty school, which is a school where the Economic Need Index (ENI) is at least 60%.

      There is no separate application for the Discovery Program. Those who meet the above criteria will be offered a spot in the Discovery Program in the spring of 8th grade. Those who participate in and complete all of the Discovery Program’s requirements will be admitted to a specialized high school.”

  3. wow, maud is such a breath of fresh air!

    in order to recover the city must have the following:

    1) public safety which can only be accomplished by working with the nypd, not disparaging them.

    2) safe subways that people ride 24 hours every day.

    3) open classrooms – no more “zoom in a room” fake blended learning.

  4. I’m so thankful that there is someone with actual common sense running for this seat. Someone who actually cares about the lives and education of our children, instead of paying lip service to families and pretending that this utter disregard for science in schools is rational. Thank you Maud for standing up for our families!

    • Unfortunately, it seems that someone with common sense and who cares about public safety has little chance of being elected in NYC in 2021.

  5. She’s got my vote. Finally someone who doesn’t speak like a politician!!! Very transparent. What you see is what you get! My vote is for Maud!!

  6. After reading through all of these candidate profiles, I’m leaning Maud. Her focus on quality of life and public safety is particularly important at this pivotal time when tourists and office workers, both so critical to downtown’s livelihood, need to feel safe and comfortable coming back to the city.

  7. I read through all of these this morning, thank you for doing this! I have to go with Maud on this one. She’s the candidate most in line with the issues I care about. It may be the unpopular thing to say but a clean, safe, jail-free, shelter-free neighborhood is a priority for me.

    “People will relocate before being overtaxed and underserved. NYC needs to attract and retain its taxpayers, not take them for granted.”
    Yes!

  8. She got the endorsement of the PBA. The same union that endorsed Trump….I wonder what she had to commit to for that nod. I want clean and safe streets as much as the next person, but having the PBA support is extremely concerning.

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