Change We Can Believe -- Elect Jumaane Williams Lt. Governor of New York

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Challenger Williams; tireless innovative young leader. Photos- Jumaanewilliams.com 

[Editorial]
 
This year’s mid-term elections will be the most critical of our lifetime, for the country, and for Black America’s agenda. The political winds of change are blowing across America. Several previously unknown African-Americans, like Missouri’s Wesley Bell and Massachusetts's Ayanna Pressley, have shaken the foundations of the political landscape unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
 
In the July Missouri Democratic primary, Councilman Wesley Bell defied the odds by soundly beating St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, in a historically epic upset. McCulloch had been county prosecutor for nearly 30 years. He is best known for mishandling the prosecution of the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson case. Councilman Bell, the son of a police officer, was a law professor, public defender and municipal judge before being elected to the Ferguson City Council. He will likely become the first African-American to sit as the prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County history, since he is now running unopposed as the November Elections draw near.
 
Equally important was the recent primary win by Black Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley who became the 2018 Democratic nominee for Massachusetts's 7th congressional district. In 2010, Councilwoman Pressley became the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council in its 100-year history. Last Tuesday, she again shocked American politics by beating longtime Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano in the state’s primary. Councilwoman Pressley will also likely win in the November Elections, since she is also running unopposed.
 
More political upsets must occur to foster meaningful change in Black America and inspire the youth.
 
In Thursday’s New York primaries one of the race is to decide who will be the lieutenant governor. These times call for strong, principled, innovative leadership at all levels of government. Black New Yorkers must support candidates who will fight for the issues that affect our daily lives, especially when those candidates have a proven identifiable track record.
 
Black communities are besieged with a host of challenges: high unemployment; poor housing; inadequate healthcare; and failing schools. All are issues screaming for serious redress. The connective institutional political evils of racist policing, mass incarceration, and the criminalization of Black America must be forcefully tackled, not ignored, as is usually done. We at The Black Star News believe the standout candidate in the 2018 race for lieutenant governor is independent-minded three-term New York City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, 42. 
 
Williams is challenging the incumbent Kathy Hochul, lieutenant governor since 2015. Hochul has never taken a stance that differed with Governor Andrew Cuomo's. Williams will most certainly take the initiative on several progressive issues. Unlike typical lieutenant governors, who largely remain silent in the background, we expect Williams to use this elevated position to continue advocating for Black New Yorkers while serving all communities. He's declared that he's running to be the “people’s lieutenant governor.”
 
Councilman Williams’ resume demonstrates a steadfast commitment to New York’s Black communities. Before Williams became a councilman in 2009, he worked for non-profit organizations in the Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant sections of Brooklyn. Even then, he was extremely active in promoting community causes.
 
In 2008, Williams, who has a master’s degree in urban policy and administration, became the executive director of the statewide New York State Tenants & Neighbors. In this capacity, he fought for the rights of poor tenants in Section 8 housing against greedy landlords. Williams has impressed many because of his advocacy for low-income and public housing tenants.
 
Since becoming a councilman in 2009, Williams has bravely championed some of the most important yet ignored issues affecting Black people in New York City. He’s been able to pass necessary legislation, around 50 in total, by building consensus on the City Council. He’s a skilled negotiator and known as one of the most productive members of the City Council. Williams has been one of the few politicians to consistently champion the need for accountability and transparency among police. He has given us far more than the normal empty rhetoric we usually get from status-quo politicians.
 
Besides being an outspoken critic of the racist Stop-and-Frisk policing, Williams championed the Community Safety Act, which survived the veto of then Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Community Safety Act instituted an independent Inspector General requirement to oversee the New York Police Department (NYPD) and create much needed accountability and enforcement against biased policing. This legislation also makes it easier for those who’ve been victims of discriminatory unconstitutional stops by the NYPD to initiate legal action.
 
Williams has also been an ardent defender of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and fairer immigration policies. On Jan. 11, Councilman Williams, who was born in New York City, of Grenadian parents, was arrested for blocking an ambulance carrying immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir, who fainted after being told by ICE officials that he would be deported to Trinidad. Ragbir, who advocates for immigrants' rights heads the New Sanctuary Coalition.
 
Last month, Williams was found guilty in a Manhattan court of disorderly conduct for blocking the ambulance. Judge Steven M. Statsinger sentenced Williams to time served, for the hours he spent in jail. Judge Statsinger told Williams, “I believe and still believe your heart was in the right place, and your moral compass, which is otherwise as far as I could tell completely accurate, went a little awry.” Williams used the trial to spotlight the Trump Administration’s racist immigration policies.
 
In 2015, Williams’s Fair Chance Act was passed into law. The legislation prohibits employers from looking into the criminal history of prospective employees until after a conditional offer of employment has been first made.
 
Williams has also been an advocate for an anti-violence initiative known as Cure Violence. This anti-violence approach, which uses mediators to prevent violence, has even been lauded by some NYPD police officers who admit it has helped reduce violence where it has been practiced.
 
For all these reasons, The Black Star News endorses Councilman Williams for lieutenant governor of New York. 
 
Later --and if he continues delivering-- we will certainly listen to what he has to say should he ever eye the governorship.
 
 
 
 
 

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