Harlem Votes: Why This Resident Supports Cordell Cleare

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Cordell Cleare

[Op-Ed: Election]

Dear Harlem Community,

This is why I'm voting for Cordell Cleare for vacant New York City Council seat in the 9th district in Harlem:

I'm a transplant to Harlem of 17 years.  Despite being a Transplant, single, childless, and a renter, I'm concerned with preserving the most famous Black community in the world (as is Cordell Cleare is), its public schools, the need to help "pre-gentrification" property-owners maintain ownership (not have it taxed away from their hands), as well as "affordable" rents.

Since moving to Harlem, I've learned the lesson of community, the importance of maintaining it, paying attention to local politics, and how important it is to have a representative who actually looks out for the interests of the community that elects them.

I joined the fight to try and put a stem on the "Downtown" encroachment of Harlem when the veil was ripped from my naive eyes. What was revealed was the collusion between the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, developers, the real estate industry, TV, and sadly, our departing council member, to sell out the Harlem community.

Yes, the plan had been in  the works for 30 years. It became easier with a representative who helped to accelerate it. One who approved the 125th Street rezoning and voted "yes" on a third term for Bloomberg and similarly benefited from term extension. This extra term was all Bloomberg and others needed to put the last nail in the coffin for long-term residents of Harlem.

We can't afford to continue this type of "representation". We can't have just another warm body in the City Council seat, whose main interest is their self-preservation, to hold a title, or allegedly opportunistically play musical chairs from one office to the next, because it will elevate their income bracket.

I'm voting for Cordell Cleare, to take advantage of this opportunity to put a stop to the neglect and non-representation of the Harlem community. 

She's not a novice to the political system.  She has faithfully served as part of Bill Perkins support staff.  She is a 4th generation Harlemite, who has actually been in fights for tenants issues, without getting public credit. 

She has served on the Board of Education when there was one. Having had this position, she has insight on the working of this system.  She's a strong supporter of Public Schools.  Long ago, since the 1990s, she objected to initiating the Charter school experiment in Harlem. She sees it for what it is; the road to privatizing and profiting from schools.  She's been here long enough to know that, the premise for putting the first charter school here, to serve as a template to improve our schools, has never materialized.

She has the concern and drive to preserve the community.  She knows that to have "affordable" housing, it's common sense to match the medium income of the average Harlem resident to a real affordable rent, as well as putting a stop to any idea to privatize Public housing. 

We can't afford to have Public housing become the sequel to the Charter school story. In tandem to school, and housing, she has voiced another concern, the loss of the small businesses that once existed in the community.  She welcomes the new ones but not at the expense of those who have maintained their businesses to help make this a viable, historic community.

Cordell Cleare is the opposite of what I've experienced with our current representatives, in all levels of government. As community activists who have worked closely with her behind the political scene can attest, Cordell Cleare has the integrity that is so needed in someone asking to hold a political seat to represent us.

I feel that we in the community will emerge as winners by electing Cordell Cleare and going forward from our devastating political regression.

Regardless of whom you support, please vote on Tuesday.

By Francine Brown

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