Name: Mahfuzul Islam
Office Sought: New York State Assembly District 24
Party Affiliation(s): Democrat
Education: Fordham University B.A
Occupation/Employer: Adjunct Professor at Fordham University
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement: N/A
Twitter: https://Twitter: .com/mahfuzulfor24
Facebook: https://www.Facebook: .com/mahfuzulfor24/
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.
Voting is a right guaranteed to everyone regardless of their identity. A prior criminal record should not impose a barrier to anyone who wishes to be civically engaged.
Reducing campaign contribution limits allows for a fairer campaign process. Money should not determine the outcome of an election and by reducing the limit, grassroots campaigns have a fairer chance at participating in government. In our personal campaign, we launched a social media campaign that encouraged everyone to only donate a dollar. Our funds are mainly composed of small donations made by constituents themselves.
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 Website:
- 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?
During a crisis, flexibility and adaptability is important in order to help the situation reach a state of equilibrium. I believe the use of emergency powers is important during a crisis because it requires quick action, however, there should be consistent public briefings on the logic and rationale behind each action. We have to keep check to make sure power isn’t abused.
Serving the public under the COVID-19 outbreak
- What are the biggest challenges in your district in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?
My constituents have issues with rent, several small business owners have lost their source of income, and everyone is still struggling to claim their unemployment benefits. Jamaica has been devastated by the pandemic, and my community is grieving the loss of so many loved ones. The least the government can do is provide economic security and ease the burden of rent. This is especially important in my community where families have one breadwinner and rely solely on that income for their basic needs. A crisis will only exacerbate their current socioeconomic conditions unless the government steps in to help them.
- What are the appropriate roles of city, state, and federal governments in a crisis such as this?
Logically, the federal government should collaborate with state governments to allocate the necessary resources and funding needed. For example, from the beginning, the federal government should have distributed the relief aid to states according to which state needed it the most. Local government plays an important role in identifying which communities need aid the most, and assessing the important concerns and relaying it back to state authorities. Local government is also responsible for the execution of several programs that may be sponsored by the state or federal government.
- 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?
The key to providing my constituents access to the various relief sources such as CARES Act is to market it to them. For instance, my office would create newsletters that include information about the small business loans and the stimulus package. Contacting local community organizations and providing them with the current update on how they can seek help. Creating a resource guide is incredibly important and can be shared through social media, a government website, and flyers. The main aspect of increasing access is to increase engagement with the community by utilizing community leaders and organizations to disperse information.
CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS
What are the top five promises you are making to the voters during the campaign?
Campaign Promise 1
It’s time for community members to decide where to direct funding in their district. They are the ones who will utilize the services and for far too long, the state has avoided doing participatory budgeting while we stand idly by. In participatory budgeting, people get to work on the projects they value the most while ensuring that the funding is there to fulfill their goals!
Campaign Promise 2
Close the Affordable Housing Loophole
Right now, the rents for Affordable Housing built in Queens and throughout New York City are based on the Area Median Income of the entire city as well as Westchester and Nassau Counties, creating rent that is not reflective of those who need affordable housing the most.
To put it bluntly, the “affordable housing” being built today is not affordable and never will be.
As New Yorkers, we know how much income can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and wealthy communities across the city should not be defining what is affordable for Southeast Queens.
We need to calculate Area Median Incomes based on zip codes rather than in a fashion designed to benefit developers.
Campaign Promise 3
Too much of our district has become unaffordable and expensive for the communities that live within it. We need to move forward through strong social institutions. We can help reduce homelessness and rising rents through Community Land Trusts (CLTs) where the community owns the property they live in.
We need to provide good support to Credit Unions, Socially-Conscious Businesses, and Worker Cooperatives that can help build a more inclusive economic system.
Campaign Promise 4
Inclusive Housing Development
Developers come in and develop in our neighborhood. It’s not their neighborhood, but our neighborhood. That means we should have an opportunity to be substantially involved in the process required to approve the plans with respect to the development. The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) allows Community Boards to have a say in whether or not they approve plans to develop in a certain neighborhood.
Unfortunately, most of the ULURP process is a show.
Community Boards only have an advisory position when it comes to development. At the end of the day, the City Planning Commission votes on whether or not to approve the development of a site.
Mahfuzul wants to give Community Boards a vote on the City Planning Commission so they can ensure their voice is truly heard when development sites are being considered.
Campaign Promise 5
As New York gets more and more unaffordable, it’s incredibly important that we work to ensure that people have a safe place to stay. NYC has run a pilot program in East New York which legalizes basements and it’s time to expand that across the city. Basements are safe, affordable places where people can live. It’s time to implement this to help struggling communities find places where they can actually afford to live instead of simply pricing them out of the neighborhoods.
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.
Integrity is an important value to have as an elected official. That means transparency and communication is key. My actions as an elected official should not solely benefit my personal interests and that means consistently making sure there are no conflicts of interest.
In order to maintain the public trust, I plan to be open about any bills I intend to sponsor or support and explain my rationale. Any decision I make will include feedback from the constituents through town halls, and consistent communication with community leaders.
Although I am campaigning as a Democrat, if I am elected to office, I will represent the interests of ALL my constituents regardless of their party affiliation and that means reaching out to individuals and organizations who have not initially supported me and finding out how I can still help them.