By Victoria Leigh Morales
When she speaks to her neighbors from atop a hill at Sunset Park, Alexa Avilés is in her element. Her event, the Rally for Our Fair Share, is full of vibrant music and exciting conversations as we wait for a thrilling lineup of speakers, like Representative Nydia Velázquez and Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes (both of whom have endorsed Avilés’ campaign). Passersby stop to watch her talk, enraptured by Avilés’ message. Avilés’ vision for District 38 is one where everyone lives in dignity and solidarity among the working class. It’s not a pipe dream, it’s possible, and she will make it so.
Community is in Aviles’ bones. Her mother helped people in their community rebuild their lives through her work that fostered compassion for those who suffered from poverty, incarceration, and substance abuse disorders. Avilés has carried that compassion further into life, putting people first as Program Director of the Scherman Foundation, where she worked to keep youth and adults out of our city’s predatory prison system and fought to revitalize native cultures and languages. As a member of Brooklyn Community Board 7, Avilés is the Chair of Personnel and Internal Budget and Co-Chair of the Youth and Education Committee. Avilés is also well versed in student and parent advocacy. She spends time as the Parent Representative on the M.S. 88 School Leadership Team and previously was the President of the P.S. 172 Parent Teachers Association and on the School Leadership Team.
As a resident of Sunset Park for nearly twenty years, Avilés understands the unique challenges District 38 residents face. Avilés has raised her two daughters in this community and fought for resources for her fellow parents. District 38 is home to an incredible working-class immigrant community that faces ongoing discrimination, from ICE raids to language access. Her platform is specifically tailored to her neighbors’ needs.
District 38 is a waterfront district already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis — Alexa is passionate about creating climate resilience and good green jobs for everyone in her district. Her platform highlights sustainable and resilient public housing as well as zoning laws that promote breathable air. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caught the city unprepared, flooding Red Hook’s streets and impacting those in public housing at disproportionately higher rates. Thousands of homes lost power and went without heat and hot water. Poor air quality due to idling ships and traffic is no coincidence either. Environmental racism impacts the health of District 38’s constituents daily, leading to asthma and many other diseases. Avilés’ administration would look at all new land developments through a racial, environmental, and economic justice perspective and then within those developments create good-paying union jobs, a system that benefits everyone.
As a democratic socialist, bringing resources to the people is the center of Avilés’ platform. She calls for a people’s budget in which the community gets a say in where their tax dollars go. When trying to create an equitable future, one of the first steps is electing officials who will serve their community, not real estate or large corporations. It’s imperative that we have people in our government, local or federal, who believe in healthcare for all, in unions, and housing as a human right — these beliefs matter. As we begin to emerge from the Covid crisis, we need more Council Members than ever who will lead with empathy. Not only are our neighbors struggling financially, but we are collectively grieving as a city.
This past year has put a strain on every New Yorker. While phone banking, I asked a woman if there were any issues she was worried about in her neighborhood. Her voice got very soft. She said that she wasn’t sure how to phrase it, but it was like there was a fog over everyone and that when she walked by people on the street, they just seemed sad. She quickly backtracked, unsure of how that pertained to the City Council. Policy is personal, even when people try to argue that their politicians do not affect their lives. Sunrise NYC is proud to endorse Alexa Avilés for City Council District 38. She is a champion for the people and will fight to bring change to our city. Read more about her campaign at alexaforcouncil.com