Name: Diana Sharon Sanchez
Office Sought: New York State Senate District 13
Party Affiliation(s): Democrat
Education: Some College, Bernard M. Baruch
Occupation/Employer: NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson: Laffey Real Estate
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement:
- Long Island Board of Realtors, Director and Member
- National Association of Realtors, Member
- Hispanics in Real Estate and Construction, Member
- Organizacion America Viva, Member
- Blessed Sacrament Church, Lector and Catechist
Please state whether you support or oppose the following reform measures. If you wish to elaborate on your answers, you may do so in the provided space at the bottom of this page.
- Replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission with an effective and independent enforcement body (S594A/A1282A).
- Limit outside compensation earned by state legislators and statewide officials to 25% of their salaries and eliminate stipends.
Elections and Voting
- Do you support or oppose the following changes to the state’s current registration and voting system?
- No-excuse absentee voting (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Election Day voter registration (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Re-enfranchisement of people on parole automatically through legislation, without requiring a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief
- Automatic voter registration, unless the potential voter opts out
- Mandating poll sites on college campuses
- No-excuse absentee voting (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Reform the special election process, utilizing a nonpartisan special election for state legislative seats and eliminate delays in filling vacancies.
- Reduce the vote threshold to become a registered party back to 50,000 votes and keep the gubernatorial election as the qualifying election, and reduce the petition requirement for independent candidates back to 15,000 signatures.
- Amend the state’s public campaign financing system, approved in the 2021 budget, by
- Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits
- Set even lower contribution limits for registered lobbyists and those who do business with the state
- Move the campaign finance matching program to be administered by an independent, nonpartisan body outside of the NY Board of Election
- Simplify the matching system by making both in- and out-of-district donations eligible and by eliminating the three different tiers for matching
- Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits
- Require full disclosure of grants and contracts issued by the state, including the budget lines from which the spending is made and reporting on the results of each grant or contract over a certain amount.
- Provide for effective online disclosure and itemization of spending from elected officials’ lump sum appropriations, including reporting on potential conflicts of interest and how the funds are spent.
- Repeal Civil Rights Law, Sec. 50-a, which shields from public view the disciplinary records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters.
- Restructure the state Board of Elections to abolish the strict two-party division of governance and operation and put in place professional, nonpartisan administration.
- Empower the attorney general to investigate and prosecute election law malfeasance and cases of public corruption.
- Make mayoral control of city schools permanent, with a governance system that provides for accountability, transparency, parent engagement, and democratic participation.
- Simplify and consolidate New York State’s court system by passing the Chief Judge’s proposed constitutional amendment to modernize the courts.
If needed, you may elaborate below on your positions on the previous questions. You may also provide additional information on any actions that you have taken or plan to take to advance your positions on these issues.
RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Government under the COVID-19 outbreak
- Adopt technological solutions and provisions that will allow the New York State legislature to convene and vote remotely if needed.
- Provide public access to observe and participate in government proceedings, in meetings that would be public under the New York Open Meetings Law, via live and recorded video available on government websites.
- Implement immediate programs to facilitate absentee voting for all New York voters as long as the widespread contagion risk of COVID-19 continues, under current state constitutional limitations. This includes electronic submission of absentee ballot applications without a wet signature and a public information campaign.
- What are your concerns regarding the use of emergency powers during this crisis, and how do you think NY government can maintain public accountability standards at this time?
There many concerns regarding the emergency powers used during this crisis. New York governments can have a better ability to provide resources. One of the problems I have is the lack of money the government has. I believed for years that New York State needs to increase its tax base. It is important to have a progressive economy in New York State. That means not only offering things like a home guarantee but also increased financial support for impoverished families like universal based income (UBI). This support for families means an increase of tax dollars so people with extremely high incomes can be able to pay their fair share in wealth taxes. This has not been done. Our government should be more accountable in New York State to make sure our tax base is increased to provide more support for people in need. In addition to higher taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers are needed so we can yield tons of tax revenue in New York State. The combined revenue of marijuana and wealth taxes instituted in New York could yield approximately 3 billion dollars in conservative estimates. During this crisis, New York State was already in a 6-billion-dollar hole. Currently, New York State is approximately 12 billion dollars in the hole, and its growing fast. We need more leadership in New York State government starting with our New York State senators to be able to propose increasing the tax base not just for the state to have more revenue for social programs, but to give more resources directly to constituents, especially in the form of UBI, to all poorer constituents, so they can become masters of their own destiny.
Serving the public under the COVID-19 outbreak
- What are the biggest challenges in your district in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?
In many people’s perspective, my district is the heart of the Covid-19 virus epidemic. Some churches in Elmhurst may have lost more than 3 dozen parishioners. Besides Elmhurst hospital has been overloaded with patients since it has become ground zero. Thousands of residents in my district have had Covid-19 and many have died. One of the major challenges that we have had in this district is the lack of financial opportunities. Many people in the community have no access to union jobs and lack financial protections in the wake of the Covid-19. As a result, many people who were working in restaurants or cleaning office buildings are out of work and have no income. Also, they have little support from the federal government because many are undocumented and not eligible for funding from the federal government. Many people are also married to non-immigrants and are also not subject to getting federal compensation and aid. The State government has pandemic relief funding available for many people and that is a good start. However, UBI would be able to help plenty of our residents. In addition to having masks and gloves and other necessities, we need to have more funding that can go directly into the pockets of residents so they can have more resources at the tip of their fingers to protect themselves from the travesty of the Covid-19 outbreak.
- What are the appropriate roles of city, state, and federal governments in a crisis such as this?
The City government is doing its job by making sure that we have more testing sites available and funding food pantries. However, I do believe the City government should provide more protections for residents in our district when it comes to masks gloves and other things residents can use to protect themselves. The role of the federal government is to give funding and relieve businesses that have been directly impacted by the Covid-19 in our area. We have seen the federal government give very little money to small businesses in our district and this federal bailout has been focused on too many companies that are large and not small businesses which are the heart of our consumer-driven economy. Besides the federal government has ignored many immigrants by refusing to give aid to them and their families. So, the state government has a larger responsibility in this crisis. UBI is one of the primary ways state government can be able to provide a resource for families. Some people believe UBI is better at a city level and others believe it is better on a federal level. My perspective is UBI for families making under $40,000 a year is a necessity in getting people out of poverty. If you have an entrepreneur who is making less than $40,000 a year and they receive this $1000 a monthly benefit that could be the difference between making a profit and homelessness. If you have someone who just lost a job because of the Covid-19 outbreak and receives $1,000 a month it could be the difference between homelessness and eventually becoming financially independent and self-sufficient. We are on the verge of a situation in our society where we can see mass homelessness because of this epidemic. The best way that we can get out of this possibility is by giving pandemic dollars and a form of UBI to all residents who are negatively impacted by way of universal basic income. The pandemic relief insurance benefit that the state is issuing out and giving approximately $600 a week to residents is a temporary form of UBI so the product that we are talking about is already in use. However, this pandemic creates a wartime scenario. After the pandemic is over, we need to have sustainable systems like UBI that can help people get out of poverty in New York State while we in government provide home guarantees, modern education tools, more funding for higher education, and having an increased tax base that can provide jobs and opportunity during and after the pandemic.
- How will you help your future constituents, residents and businesses, access potential funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, or any other future government relief funds?
There is this incredible documentary called Poverty Inc. where the NGO industrial complex is identified as people who are well-intentioned but are not a 100% understanding of the greater need. Covid-19 aid and relief in addition to the Cares Act and other government relief funds are important and necessary. However, if these monies are not going directly into the hands of people who are immediately impacted there will be many problems in getting people out of joblessness and poverty. If this money is going to governments and not people were having these problems. If these monies are going to large nonprofits with lots of overhead and not directly to families were going to have major problems. These monies need to go to small businesses on the verge of closing because of the pandemic. These monies need to go directly to families who do not have an income right now to protect them from homelessness. My position, and the reason why I am running for office, is to provide resources that can directly impact constituents and not just rhetoric for future officers. I am a single mom of 4 children who has struggled, know what it’s like to be on public assistance, and running for office because too often the resources of government go to second, third, and fourth-hand sources and not the people. I am razor-focused on building wealth opportunities for constituents while improving their health and housing social structures. I want small businesses to get money for not only their families but also the community. Reduced gentrification is possible with these initiatives. We can also provide more schools in our growing communities to educate the next generation of future constituents. We need elected representation that has the best interests of constituents and not rhetoric from theoretical perspectives of government. If you put the resources of aid and relief into the hands of constituents, they will make the best decisions and is ultimately the most important way to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS
What are the top five promises you are making to the voters during the campaign?
Campaign Promise 1
Currently, we have a state senator who is active in supporting and issues, and people who only live in Astoria. She forgets about working-class families in East Elmhurst Corona and Jackson Heights. One of my strongest campaign promises is to be fully engaged with the entire district while placing closer attention on the communities that struggle. Not only will I pay closer attention to them but also to provide tangible resources that will help them prosper.
Campaign Promise 2
Universal basic income (UBI) is a policy initiative that I strongly support. UBI’s time has come and New York State can deliver this specifically to struggling families throughout the state; specifically in NYS Senate District 13, there are thousands of people who should be eligible for universal basic income. Not only do I want to target citizens but also people who have H-1 visas, permanent residents, and working papers to who make less than 40k a year to receive this money. These people within the district are contributing taxpayers to our state tax base and should be recipients. They need to understand that even though we do not get support from our federal government that we have a state government that will support them and their families.
Campaign Promise 3
The current leadership in Senate District 13 ignores small businesses. Strengthening small businesses is one of my top priorities and will help protect us against gentrification. I plan to support small businesses and their owners via UBI and providing Grant opportunities to MWBE small businesses are top priorities of mine. Many immigrant families in the district do not have social security numbers but they own restaurants and are small business leaders in the community. They need protection and a Senator who will support them. Broadening the MWBE financial contribution to businesses and making it easier for small businesses of color to become MWBE. It is important to give more financial support to small businesses of color and women owners while increasing the money businesses can get from state government when they make under $100,000 a year.
Campaign Promise 4
We have a transportation desert in most parts of the district. The bulk of the district is in a transportation desert and need a lot of financial support and big ideas. The current leadership ignores transportation because she focuses only on the needs of Astoria. The broader needs of the district look for a more creative conversation of transportation deliverables in the district. There is a conversation about bringing the metro North through Queens and have more stops in the Bronx. It goes thru Senate District 13 but we do not have a Senator fighting for a stop or two in Queens. I will fight for it. That will mean transportation to and from Manhattan to the district could be done in minutes. This will ease crowding on subways while increasing traffic from residents in Manhattan to great restaurants and tourist attractions. I will also fight for car services from East Elmhurst, Corona, Woodside, and Elmhurst to current train stations during rush hours. Right now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are car services like Uber and Lyft working with the city to provide services from transportation desert locations to train stops during rush hours. But it needs to be more sophisticated. I will work with state government partners to ensure more transportation options that can provide transportation from our transportation desert locations to MTA stations without charging high these during peak hours.
Campaign Promise 5
In addition to a transportation desert, we also have an education desert in our district. In Senate District 13 we have an absence of good schools. We have no public college to choose from. All those things are unacceptable. We need to have an additional CUNY or SUNY college in the district while also fighting for new schools. We can fight for a specialized high school in the district while also fighting for more middle and elementary schools. We have had traumatic increases in population and the last 20 years in the district, but that population growth has not equated to result in more schools. That is a failure of political leadership. As a single mom of 4 children who were born and raised in the district, I know this fact all too well. My children have all needed to seek educational opportunities outside of the district to reach their educational goals. This needs to change. We need leadership in the district that can fight for changes.
ETHICAL REPRESENTATION OF CONSTITUENTS
Citizens Union believes that all New Yorkers deserve to be represented by officials who work for the public interest and honor the public trust. With the corruption conviction of recent legislative leaders, we seek to endorse a candidate who will demonstrate that she/he will honor the full commitment of the oath of office, and always represent the public interest above all else.
Please tell us how you have and would continue to conduct the political affairs of this office in an upright manner, and maintain the public trust.
I have been a real estate salesperson for many years doing so with respect, integrity, ethics, professionalism, and kindness towards everyone I have dealt with over the years. That is how I’ve led my life even before having that position and that is how I will continue to do so in the senate seat.
While working in real estate, holding other positions before then even in my volunteer work, my drive has been to help others no matter who the person in front of me is whether an adult or a child.
I am a single parent of four children (two boys and two girls), three of which are already adults and one teenager. I have brought them up with the same values I have mentioned before to show them how they have to behave in society.
Once I win the senate seat in district 13 I will sign a pledge to always put the community first. That’s been my motto since starting my campaign for office. I believe often elected officials put their own personal interests first. My challenger already has a Twitter account dedicated to her future gubernatorial run. I have no such interests. My primary interests lie in the community, not any future position I may or may not hold.