Socialist Alana Sivin plans to challenge Brian Kavanagh in the State Senate

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Alana Sivin, a socialist lawyer and advocate for criminal justice reform, plans to challenge Democratic state senator Brian Kavanagh for re-election in 2022 – a year that could again see many New York incumbents in the legislature. the state facing opponents of the left.

Sivin lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She is a senior advisor to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform in New York City – known to many as the Lippman Commission. She spoke to City & State exclusively about launching her campaign for Ward 26, which currently includes Lower Manhattan below Houston and parts of Brooklyn’s waterfront neighborhoods including Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Heights. The redistribution process could significantly alter those boundaries – the draft map presented by the Democrats nominated this month caused the new district to lose sections of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights to portions of Williamsburg and Bushwick that lean more towards left. But the maps are only drafts and should look quite different by the time they are finalized, probably in January. It’s a problem that could hurt the chances of insurgent candidates, who might only have five months to run for voters in the newly drawn constituencies.

No matter what happens, Sivin targets Kavanagh, who lives a few blocks from his Lower East Side home in Alphabet City. “I am finally running because it is important that we have state senators who see the urgency of this period,” she said. Sivin plans to launch his campaign on Wednesday at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. She says Zephyr Teachout, the progressive activist and former attorney general candidate, and Janos Marton, the criminal justice activist and former Manhattan district attorney candidate, are supporting her candidacy.

Kavanagh, a lawyer, was elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2017 to replace Daniel Squadron, who retired, and before that represented parts of east Manhattan in the assembly. He chairs the Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee and has been the main sponsor of a bill to extend the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, but seen by some as a moderating force amid calls from some tenant advocates to cancel the rent.

Sivin argued that Kavanagh was not doing enough to fight for the marginalized, highlighting his 2020 vote to overturn bail reform. “We see the crisis happening on Rikers right now. People are dying every day, ”Sivin said. “We need people who have this moral clarity to say, even though it’s unpopular, even though people will spread fear, we really need to stay the course when it comes to decarceration. When it comes to getting people out of jail.

A law that increased the number of charges for which judges could set bail, resulting in more people being held in prison, was included in the state budget last year. Only five of the 40 Senate Democrats at the time voted against this specific budget bill, citing the cancellation of the surety reform, which had been adopted the previous year. Kavanagh was not among them. But Kavanagh was also not part of the group of Democrats actively working on rolling back bail reform and, unlike many of his colleagues, had never received campaign donations from law enforcement unions.

Sivin also said Kavanagh does not support legislation to raise taxes for the rich. He is a co-sponsor of one of six bills progressives are pushing forward as part of the Invest in our New York legislative package.

Asked about the challenge, Kavanagh said he was eager to discuss his work with the Democratic Senate majority with voters and any candidates who may run in 2022. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished: relief and services in response to COVID-19, the strongest tenant protection in half a century and measures to ensure everyone has access to good quality affordable housing, the country’s most ambitious legislation to fight against climate change, voter-friendly election laws, unprecedented investments in our schools and other tax-funded public services, more progressive laws and community interventions to end gun violence, system reforms judiciary and police, and progress on so many other issues important to New Yorkers, ”he wrote in a statement provided to City & State.

Sivin was born in Brooklyn to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ashkenazi Jewish father. She grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York to study at Columbia University and Brooklyn Law School. She has lived in East Manhattan for five years. She taught at Success Academy for a year where she says she learned that “charter schools are not the solution” and then became a lawyer, working as a public defender in Manhattan before joining New York City Council to work. as legislative advisor to the Criminal Justice Commission. A close friend of Democratic City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán, Sivin encouraged Cabán to run for Queens District Attorney in 2019, and advised her campaign where she learned that “people like candidates who are not afraid “. Like Cabán, Sivin is a member of the New York branch of the Democratic Socialists of America and identifies as a socialist. “Part of the mission of this campaign is to create a world where no one struggles to put food on the table,” she said. “And that’s largely what DSA is. “

Sivin will seek approval from NYC-DSA in the race, but she won’t be alone. Illapa Sairitupac, a mental health social worker and organizer of the DSA’s Ecosocialist Task Force, also told City & State that he plans to run for District 26 of the state Senate. The DSA expects to hear from them both at a forum on October 7 as an organization. considers his approvals.

If DSA chooses to support, it would be the organization’s first time in modern years to support a candidate running in Manhattan. DSA began its approval process in 2022, and a source with knowledge of the organization tells City & State that they are considering, among other races, to support a candidate in southern Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, according to how the redistribution is going, and also consider targeting State Senator Kevin Parker, who represents downtown Brooklyn.

Nine months before the Democratic primaries scheduled for June 2022, relatively few legislative candidates have announced their intention to run. But many challenges are expected this year. The last two cycles have seen at least a dozen law-holders overthrown by insurgents with a more progressive policy.

Among those who have formed campaign committees are Kaegan Mays-Williams, political adviser to Everytown for Gun Safety and a former Manhattan deputy attorney who applied to run in the state. District 17 Senate in central Brooklyn, currently represented by State Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who used to caucus with Republicans. Also in central Brooklyn, Samantha Adler, a program manager at a nonprofit restorative justice organization, applied to run in District 21, now owned by Parker. In the Bronx, the Rev. Ian Harris, a software developer, applied for Senate District 32, held by State Senator Luis Sepúlveda, who was arrested and charged in January with strangling his wife. Sepúlveda denies any wrongdoing and has remained in office.

On the Assembly side, Shaniyat Chowdhury, who ran against Representative Greg Meeks in 2020, is actively raising funds to run in Assembly District 24 in East Queens, currently held by David Weprin . Mary Jobaida, who challenged Assembly member Catherine Nolan in 2020, is plans to run in district 37 in West Queens again. And in the center of the Bronx, Shanequa Charles plans to run in District 78, seat now held by José Rivera.



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