The Candidates 2022: Quanda Francis for the 10th Congressional District

For the primary on August 23, I will be talking to candidates for the newly drawn NY10. The top of the post is the result of a brief interview; scroll down for the answers to a questionnaire and links to the other candidates who have responded so far.

Quanda Francis’ life has for decades criss-crossed NY District 10. She went to high school in Fidi, her own kids went to school in Battery Park City (one still does) and after school at Manhattan Youth, she lives in Brooklyn Heights and she grew up on the edge of District 8, part of the old District 10.

At 42 she’s been through a lot: pregnant at 17, she dropped out of high school to raise her first child, working and getting her GED through Job Corps and spending the eight years following getting her undergrad degree part-time. She was homeless for a brief time in her teens (“My oldest daughter’s father was abusive, and it was hard to share that with people around me, so I just left”). But she went on to get a graduate business degree at LIU, had two more children, worked for the state of Virginia Department of Taxation as a financial specialist and the Small Business Administration as an emergency response official for disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

“I raised my daughter, got married, went to school — it was not the traditional route,” she says. “But my husband was college educated when I met him so the nuances of my economic situation kind of changed — I didn’t have to struggle then to meet my basic needs.”

Fast forward to 2018 when she took a job with the NYPD as a crime analyst and a researcher: that’s when she started thinking about politics. Francis says she was pushed out of her job there — paid less than men in her same role, passed over for promotions, finally speaking up to the police commissioner and the mayor only to have it backfire. She sued the City of New York in 2020 (which is still ongoing) and started making plans to run for office.

“I decided to leave and make an impact,” she says. “I let the mayor know what was going on and I was ignored. I would not be the kind of politician who would ignore their constituents.”

She ran for mayor in 2021 as well as the primary for New York State comptroller in 2022 (her campaign, which her husband ran, was able to gather the required signatures, but those were successfully challenged in court by the incumbent, Thomas DiNapoli). She and her husband are both now elected members of the state Democratic County Committee — a large body that can choose nominees for empty seats — for their election district in Brooklyn Heights.

She also has her own fintech consulting firm (see below) and a passion project: introducing AI and machine learning to school districts as a way to assess students’ learning styles. That last one came from experience.

“My son is on the spectrum, but he is more than a diagnosis — everything they said he could not do he is now doing,” she said. “What I know from raising my three children who all have different learning styles is that I was able to identify their styles and adapt to that. My two daughters had graduated high school at 16 [one graduated from college at 18] and my son went from being non-verbal to now, where he can tell you his mother is running for Congress.”

And that gets her back to her campaign, and how she’s now also fighting to make sure candidates have an easier path to the ballot than she has had so far these past 18 months. “These issues really affect the quality of candidates that we have and who gets elected and who doesn’t.”

1. How long have you lived in the district? And what is your education?
I was born, raised, and educated in New York City, earning an undergraduate degree (NYU), MBA, and started my Ph.D. studies here in NY10. I have lived in the district for three years and I am originally from Brooklyn, NY.

2. Married? Partnered?
I am married and my husband is my campaign manager. My husband was exposed to political campaigns his entire life.

3. Kids? Pets?
Three kids — 24, 18 and 10, two girls and a boy. The 24-year-old is in Virginia, the 18-year-old is a senior in college, and my son is a rising 5th grader at PS 276. No pets.

4. Where do you live? I currently live in Brooklyn Heights.

5. What do you do for a living?
I am the president of Sykes Capital Management, an Accountant, and research/data scientist. I am affiliated with the PhD Project, the American Accounting Association, the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. I was recently named 1 of 10 of the Most Inspiring Women in Business in the World to Watch in 2022. However, my life was not easy, as a directly impacted leader, I was raised in public housing, pregnant as a teenager, homeless and a victim of domestic violence. However, I never let my hardships define me. In fact, they have served to inspire me and have given me purpose and direction.

6. What do you hope to change, or do better, once in office?
I plan to conduct research to examine healthcare disparities and embed health equity into every legislative decision I make.

7. What are the first three issues you will tackle if you win the election?
I believe it is time to intelligently address climate change, prioritize modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, revolutionize K-12 education, reduce poverty, fund public housing, and invest heavily in community and workforce development.

8. What is most important in helping the nation recover from the pandemic?
We must ensure our legislative priorities pave the way to a just, fair, and equitable recovery. Increasing inequality of opportunity and income has created a divide amongst the poorest and wealthiest New Yorkers. I will work to ensure all New Yorkers have access to opportunities for work, affordable housing, and a high-quality education.

9. Name three ways that local issues important to you as a district resident can be solved (or helped) from a federal perch.
One of the most significant issues and potentially more threatening to our life expectancy than a pandemic or war is climate change. As your congresswoman, I will look at areas and instances where we are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change (e.g., hurricanes, torrential rain, and nor’easters) and fight to develop emergency procedures that are adaptive, cost-efficient, and effective. Additionally, we will also examine the fiscal impacts of inaction as well as examine factors that contribute to climate change (e.g., emissions, pollutants, etc.) and develop appropriate mitigation strategies.

10. What committees would you like to sit on if elected?
I would like to sit on the Budget, Education and Labor and Ways and Means committees.

11. What do you love about the district? The parks and schools.

12. What do you think is a challenge for this district?
My vision involves equity and continuously engaging and learning. To support the most vulnerable constituents in district 10, it is important to ascertain If there are barriers to full economic participation (cultural barriers, legal barriers, technology barriers and social barriers and etc..) and examine the information seeking channels of all of my constituents to fully understand their diverse needs.

13. What is challenging about representing it?
Supporting vulnerable communities. Vulnerable communities have suffered systemically for decades and have been left on their own to succeed economically despite decades of disadvantage. We must consider the impact of these systemic factors to succeed in developing a truly sustainable and equitable society.

The candidates
Brian Robinson
Dan Goldman
Mondaire Jones
Jo Anne Simon
Elizabeth Holtzman
Carlina Rivera
Maud Maron
Yan Xiong
Yuh-Line Niou
Jimmy Li
Peter Gleason