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Community advocate Wilfredo Florentino has launched a progressive campaign to represent East New York and Brownsville on city council – pitting him against the area’s dynastic Barron family in a controversial race for the 42nd district.
Florentino, a grant manager at the NAACP who founded the first community theater in eastern New York City, said he had spent the past few months on the streets of his community, which allowed him to create a flat – basic political form based on the needs of its neighbors.
“Our platform grew out of these conversations,” he said. “From the needs of ordinary people. “
While current district representative, council member Inez Barron, is barred by term limits from being re-elected, her husband Charles Barron is also vying for the seat – which he held from 2001 to 2013.
While Charles was in Council, Inez served on the State Assembly, before swapping, leaving Inez in Council and Charles in Assembly. Now the Barrons are looking to swap, Charles considering a return to the city legislature.
Florentino, however, has other plans.
Lamenting that eastern New York and Brownsville have become the epicenter of multiple crises – including COVID-19, gun violence, deteriorating public housing and a porous economic outlook – the potential politician is hoping to secure a legislative seat to remedy inequalities and to empower the community in important discussions on the future of the neighborhood.
“The community is always secondary, tertiary, an afterthought when it comes to planning,” he said. “Sometimes we are not even considered.”
Another priority for Florentino is to reallocate funds from the police department and distribute them to community programs – a proposal he admits has encountered messaging issues in some communities with higher crime rates.
“Unfortunately, ‘to define’ has become a negative word in some communities of color,” he said.
Florentino, an 11-year member of Community Board 5 and a veteran of the military, said he believed the conversation about “funding the police” focused on all of the funds being reallocated from the service. police would go to social programs.
“By saying ‘refund’ you can’t say refund without refund, which means reinvest,” he said. “This is not funding for the sake of funding, but funding to ensure that our community has the resources. ”
The 42nd arrondissement straddles the long-troubled 75th police station, the district with the most civil complaints in the city and the most shootings in 2020.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s unfortunate, it’s unacceptable,” said Florentino.
The candidate said he would pursue more community-based approaches to security if elected and called for the establishment of a civilian complaints committee.
“There are ways in which our community can be empowered to work to provide security,” he said.
Taking on the much-vaunted Barron clan, Florentino said he plans to keep the campaign focused on policies that would have a tangible impact on the lives of his potential voters, which he hopes will generate enough support for him. propel to victory.
“Our campaign is about putting issues at the forefront of all discussions,” he said. “People want change, people want to see progressive policies that affect them on a daily basis, published around housing, employment issues, education issues, safety issues. This is the subject of this campaign – it will be about the problems and it will not be about anything other than the problems. “