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Name:  Joy Chowdhury
Office Sought: New York State Assembly District 34
Party Affiliation(s): Democratic
Age: 32
Education: Currently enrolled at York College, Associate’s Degree from Laguardia Community College
Occupation/Employer: Taxi Driver / Former Political Liaison
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement:

  • Former community liaison for City Council District 22

Website:  https://www.joyfornys.com
Twitter:  @joychowdhury87
Facebook:   https://www.Facebook:  .com/joyforassembly/

 

CANDIDATE QUESTIONS

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.

 

Ethics

  1. Replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission with an effective and independent enforcement body (S594A/A1282A).
    Support
  1. Limit outside compensation earned by state legislators and statewide officials to 25% of their salaries and eliminate stipends.
    Support

 

Elections and Voting

  1. Do you support or oppose the following changes to the state’s current registration and voting system?
    1. No-excuse absentee voting (second passage of constitutional amendment)
      Support
    2. Election Day voter registration (second passage of constitutional amendment)
      Support
    3. Re-enfranchisement of people on parole automatically through legislation, without requiring a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief
      Support
    4. Automatic voter registration, unless the potential voter opts out
      Support
    5. Mandating poll sites on college campuses
      Support
  1. Reform the special election process, utilizing a nonpartisan special election for state legislative seats and eliminate delays in filling vacancies.
    Support
  1. 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.
    Support

 

Campaign Finance

  1. Amend the state’s public campaign financing system, approved in the 2021 budget, by
    1. Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits
      Support
    2. Set even lower contribution limits for registered lobbyists and those who do business with the state
      Support
    3. Move the campaign finance matching program to be administered by an independent, nonpartisan body outside of the NY Board of Election
      Support
    4. Simplify the matching system by making both in- and out-of-district donations eligible and by eliminating the three different tiers for matching
      Support

 

Budget Process

  1. 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.
    Support
  1. 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.
    Support

 

Police Accountability

  1. Repeal Civil Rights Law, Sec. 50-a, which shields from public view the disciplinary records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters.
    Support

 

Election Administration

  1. Restructure the state Board of Elections to abolish the strict two-party division of governance and operation and put in place professional, nonpartisan administration.
    Support
  1. Empower the attorney general to investigate and prosecute election law malfeasance and cases of public corruption.
    Support

 

Home Rule

  1. Make mayoral control of city schools permanent, with a governance system that provides for accountability, transparency, parent engagement, and democratic participation.
    Support

 

Court Reform

  1. Simplify and consolidate New York State’s court system by passing the Chief Judge’s proposed constitutional amendment to modernize the courts.
    Support

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

  1. Adopt technological solutions and provisions that will allow the New York State legislature to convene and vote remotely if needed.
    Support
  1. 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 Website:
    Support
  1. 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.
    Support
  1. 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?
    The decision by Governor Cuomo to suspend the presidential primary election is very troubling. The governor should not be acting unilaterally and should not be preventing elections from taking place. The legislature should be meeting remotely to direct budgetary efforts and get help to people in need, and it should be as public as possible, with video and written records made publicly available.

 

Serving the public under the COVID-19 outbreak

  1. What are the biggest challenges in your district in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?
    My district is extremely working class, with a high number of gig workers. These workers cannot do their jobs safely, and cannot earn money to support themselves. This means they cannot afford medical care if they fall ill, and cannot get tested for the virus if they suspect they might be sick. This is especially true for the gig workers, whose status as independent contractors disqualifies them from employer-provided health insurance. My district needs relief from the government.
  1. What are the appropriate roles of city, state, and federal governments in a crisis such as this?
    All levels of our government must address the crisis with all available resources. The city and state should take the lead to ensure that local communities most affected by the disease and without the resources to combat it are not neglected and get what they need, and the federal government should be using its enormous power and money to purchase the needed supplies and get relief to people.
  1. 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?
    One of the most difficult aspects of the federal relief for COVID-19 is how poorly explained it is. When it was first put in place, rumors went back and forth about eligibility and how to access the funding. There is also no understood time table for when a person can expect their relief. I would make it a priority to get that information to my constituents, in a simple and easily understood manner. I strongly appreciate similar efforts being made by many elected officials in promoting absentee voting in New York, and I think that is a good model to follow. In addition, these resources must be available outside of just in English. My district is extremely diverse and many languages are spoken here. Our significant immigrant population should not be denied relief due to language barriers.

 

CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS

What are the top five promises you are making to the voters during the campaign?

Campaign Promise 1
Fighting for Immigrants – Support “know your rights” workshops. Abolish ICE. Hold training on non-cooperation with ICE. Host bilingual citizenship classes. Establish an immigrant services hotline. Free English Classes and translation services. Fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. Refer immigrant-friendly legal resources. Hire working-class immigrants and DREAMers in my office.

Campaign Promise 2
Housing is a Human Right – Fight to fully fund public housing. Propose new affordable housing units. Propose new housing quotas for seniors and the disabled. Increase funding for senior centers. Close loopholes in New York’s rent-stabilization system. Advocate for stricter rent controls. Prevent evictions. End homelessness. Propose the “Landlord Accountability Project” to hold corrupt landlords accountable.

Campaign Promise 3
Gig Workers New Deal – Gig economy workers like Uber drivers, food delivery bikers, and graphic designers need to be classified by labor law as employees. They are now independent contractors, which means they lose benefits such as minimum wage, paid sick leave, and health insurance. I will propose a new bill in the NYS Assembly “The Gig Worker Protection Act”. This bill would improve the lives of 30,000 gig workers in my district, and affect over half a million gig workers in NYC.

Campaign Promise 4
Education for All and Universal Healthcare – Free tuition to public colleges and universities. 100% funding of elementary, middle, and high schools. Fund universal pre-K. Proposing state-wide universal child-care programs. Increasing funding for mental health resources. Support passage of the New York Health Act. Eliminate copays, deductibles, and premiums for all New Yorkers. Expand access to mental health and therapist services. Build new drug addiction clinics. Fight the opioid crisis.

Campaign Promise 5
Criminal Justice Reform – End cash bail. End the school-to-prison pipeline. Enforce police accountability. Decriminalize poverty. No new jails. Prosecute abusive landlords.

 

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.
As both a candidate and an assembly member, I pledge not to take contributions from companies and organizations that work against the needs of the people of my district. I will not take money from ride share companies like Uber or Lyft. I will not take money from real estate developers. I will not take money from health insurance companies. These donations always come with strings attached and I will not even risk the appearance of favoring them over the people of my district. It is their needs I focus on, not those of companies.

I also pledge to be completely transparent as a lawmaker, engaging the public and seeking input on all of my legislative projects. I will not engage in secretive backroom dealing and I will not put myself over the needs of my district.

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