Elections 2022: Christian Amato on education, environment and quality of life

0

By EMILY SAWAKED

Christian Amato
Photo courtesy of Christian Amato

The son of Italian immigrants and a former theater professional, Christian Amato is running for state Senate District 34, covering parts of East Bronx and Westchester County, in this year’s Democratic primary. He started his campaign in February and said he looks forward to continuing to serve Bronx residents.

Amato’s political career began with organizing in response to Trump’s election. “I started organizing, connecting Bronx immigrants to DACA initiatives,” he said. “As the son of immigrants, this was very important to me. You know, that was the time when we saw the Muslim ban and all these different kinds[s] violations of our immigration system by the Trump administration.

He continued, “My family had this opportunity to come to this country and build a life for themselves, and it’s an experience that I think every immigrant should have.” After being asked to help a campaign in North Carolina, he returned to the Bronx to apply what he had done in Raleigh there.

“It was then that Alessandra Biaggi ran [for Senate District 34, in 2018]”, Amato said. “I got involved in his running. I was one of his managers on the ground, and I was also his main digital strategist, developing much of the messaging and digital strategy that helped us win this campaign.

He said after that he helped lead her efforts in the general election and added that the senator, who is currently running for Congress from NY-17, chose Amato to be her chief of staff and district manager. , which he did for a while. time. There were rumors of contention amid Amato’s departure from Biaggi’s office and the senator recently endorsed Amato’s opponent in the SD 34 race, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez (AD 80). Norwood News contacted Biaggi’s office and Amato’s campaign for comment.

We did not receive an immediate response from Biaggi’s office. Amato responded by saying, “You know, people are free to endorse whoever they want. Based on the support that Nathalia got from charter Republican supporters of the IDC (Independent Democratic Caucus) members, you know , I think it’s certainly interesting, but the things that people do for politics, you know, don’t surprise me.” Norwood News contacted the congresswoman to comment on Amato’s statements, and her campaign had no comment.

We also asked Amato if he had an argument with Biaggi when he left his office. He replied, “You know, she and I have differences of opinion on how to serve the community. I’m running because I have a clear vision of how I want to serve the community. I’m focused on my race and fighting for the policies my district wants me to fight for.

Meanwhile, regarding his career to date, Amato continued, “I’ve continued to do the work of uplifting Democrats in the Bronx and Westchester, straddling that area.” During the pandemic, Amato said he organized to help those who lacked the proper PPE needed for everyday use. “We live in the wealthiest state in the world, and here we are, we can’t even afford people a box of PPE,” he said. “When I learned that the city was sleeping on resources, and there were millions of masks sitting in airplane hangers across the city with an inch-thick layer of dust on them, I I said, “What are we doing here? “”

He said he then drove around street corners with a flatbed truck handing out boxes full of masks and disinfectant and COVID kits. This, he said, he paid for out of pocket at the height of the pandemic.

Later he said he started delivering food. “I formed a $3 million food partnership with Driscoll Foods that we were delivering,” he said. “We were giving out hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce every week, and the same thing. I would rent trucks out of pocket. I often did four food drives a day, traveling to different communities with a truckload of produce.

The young candidate said he was not the only one doing this. “I would ask 15 to 20 community leaders from across the Bronx to meet me at the drop-off point,” he said. “Each would load a truck full of fresh fruits and vegetables from Driscoll Foods.” Amato said he’s also done a lot of community work, including helping out at shelters and working to improve transgender wellness and equity.

Regarding the policies he wants to implement, if elected, he said, “Education, fully funding our public schools, free SUNY and CUNY for all New Yorkers and the extension of Universal Pre-K to Westchester County.” He added: “Environment, expanding our coastal resilience, providing tax incentives, weatherization and investing in our hard and soft green infrastructure.”

Its third priority is quality of life. He cited accessible public transportation, affordable health care and quality housing for seniors. “I’m going in hoping to win and I’m ready to work with my colleagues and build bridges with my colleagues across the state so I can do good things for our communities,” Amato said.

“These policies don’t just have an impact here. Remember that as a senator, you impact all New Yorkers. So if I can help expand universal pre-K to Westchester, that also means we’re expanding that to multiple counties in the state outside of New York, and that’s very important. At a time when parents are struggling to find jobs, trying to find a good job, figuring out what to do with child care, something like this can transform the quality of life and economic mobility of many in our communities across the state. .”

To implement these policies, Amato said he would use funds allocated in the state budget by Governor Kathy Hochul and federal funds allocated by President Joe Biden. He also believes in taxing the companies that contribute the most to pollution.

“Our budget rivals most economies, our taxes are the highest in the country and yet we can’t afford to be a leader,” he said. “It doesn’t add up, this policy of austerity, at a time when we need to uplift as many New Yorkers as possible, not just coming out of this pandemic, but we’re in a perceived downturn that could turn back into a recession. ”

Amato said investments were needed to drive growth. “All of these things that I propose come with growth and job creation, and so, these investments are not just in our quality of life and improving our communities and providing housing or security. They are also economic generators. You look at the Climate, Community and Investment Act, which would create a tax on our biggest polluters, corporations that are our biggest polluters, that would generate $15 billion a year.

The candidate’s concerns for the upcoming election are voter turnout, which he says has been “abysmal” in the past for state governor and New York mayor. However, he said he had faith in his team and his campaign.

During a BronxNet debate airing Monday, August 8 with the other running candidates, Amato was slammed by his opponent, John Perez, for his alleged earlier stance on public vilification of the police by carrying a sign that read: “All cops are B*stars. Amato addressed this point, saying that crime budgets can vary from year to year depending on priorities, that he had “walked for police accountability” and that investing in other areas such as anti-violence programs was another way to reduce street crime.

Norwood News reached out to Amato to ask if he was in favor of defunding the police then or now. He replied, “No, I called the police to account. I expect accountability from all forms of our governments and all forms of our agencies, and I think it is perfectly acceptable to criticize our government and expect it to perform better.

He added: “I have never called for defunding the police. My view is that budgets are fluid documents. You know, in 2019, after seeing such an increase in police brutality, it made perfect sense to commit to investing money in community resources. You know, coming out of this pandemic, though, with spikes in crime, I think it makes a lot of sense to invest those dollars in better training our officers to respond to those local crises.

He concluded, “So budgets are fluid documents and that will change depending on the climate of our communities where the dollars should go. At this time, I strongly believe that we need to invest in restoring the dignity of what it means to be a police officer, investing in restoring community respect and building trust, and absolutely better training and greater accountability.

His final message to voters was, “I am the only candidate who has been, who is a lifelong Bronxite, who was born and raised here, and worked in these communities, and served these communities. I’m the only candidate presenting a roadmap for our communities, and my friends live here, my family lives here, and I’m genuinely interested in fighting to make sure this community gets the attention it deserves.

Election day is August 23 and early voting begins August 13. Voters are reminded to check their polling station prior to go to the polls because that may have changed. For more information, click here.

*Síle Moloney contributed to this story.

Share.

Comments are closed.