Ditmas Park voters will notice that things are a little different in this year's New York Congressional Primary election. Changes include the actual date of the election, which has been moved to Tuesday, June 26 from its usual September spot, as well as a significant redrawing of lines that brought Ditmas Park into the 9th District.
Voters in Ditmas Park will also notice an additional name on the ballot in the Democratic Primary. Incumbent Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has been challenged by Flatbush-born Attorney and Reverend Sylvia Kinard who is running on a platform of more visibility and inclusiveness for the communities included in what is now the 9th District.
"When I move around the District, what I hear consistently is that people feel left out, they don't feel that their voice is heard." Kinard said. "In the 9th District, we have what are typically bedroom communities with issues that have to do with the quality of life, infrastructure issues like unemployment."
To improve such an issue, Kinard says the government has to lead by example. "I was shocked to find how much administrative work New York State outsources from call center businesses," she said. "I think the first thing I would like to do is get a handle on how much we as a government outsource ourself. How do we begin to shift that business to New York- business to encourage businesses to grow?"
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Kinard also said she would strongly support policy initiatives that have a direct, positive impact on small businesses, such as the American Jobs Act. "That the President has proposed we reduce the payroll tax is a huge thing, because it's going to help small businesses in terms of their bottom line," she said. "I think those kinds of things, really advocating and supporting policy initiatives that have a direct impact on the kinds of businesses [that are] here in Brooklyn."
She added that she would make it her priority to focus on issues that directly impact the communities she represents, something she suggested Clarke could be more in tune with. "I think I would be a lot more locally focused," Kinard said. "Ms. Clarke is sitting on the Homeland Security Committee. Not that that's not important, but it's typically a committee dominated by States that have large defense contractor presences in their States."
"I think there are other kinds of Committees that are more focused on the needs of New Yorkers and particularly Brooklyn," she said. "We do not have anyone who currently sits on the House Education Committee. New York City has the largest public education system in the Country; it's inexcusable."
Kinard previously served as the Senior Legislative Attorney for the New York City Counsel, during which time she drafted legislation for the Immigration Sub-Committee as well as the Sub-Committee’s on Mental Health and the Committee on Education, an area she is particularly dedicated to. She noted funding for education as well as education reform will be an area of focus for Kinard should she be elected.
"[We need to ask] how do we become more competitive in terms of those federal allocations," she said. "How do we balance Race for the Top dollars so that both charter schools get the resources they need, but also public schools. We have to remember the vast amount of children aren't going to go to charter schools. We can't just throw our hands up and say it's impossible to reform public education."
Kinard noted she would also emphasize the importance of and fight for Arts programs funding, something she said is extremely important in a child's growth and development. "We need to look at federal allocations for the Arts," she said. "I think the Arts are a critical thing. We're losing this generation of young people because we're not giving them anything to hook onto."
To bring funding back to these areas, Kinard said she would not be afraid to fight for it. "My job is to be the aggressive advocate," she said. "I would have to get in, see who's getting [funding] and make the case that we deserve it more. I'm not ashamed to that; we deserve it more."
For more on Kinard, including contact information and a lengthy biography, click here.