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Name:  Phara  Souffrant Forrest
Office Sought: New York State Assembly District 57
Party Affiliation(s): Democrat
Age: 31
Education: Bachelors of Arts, Associates in Nursing
Occupation/Employer: Field Nurse/NYC Health + Hospitals
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement:
President of 12 Crown Street Tenant Association.
Website:  https://pharaforassembly.com/
Twitter:  https://Twitter.com/phara4assembly
Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/Phara4Assembly/

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 legislature must convene remotely, rather than give the governor sweeping emergency powers. I am especially concerned with the governor’s ability to make future budget cuts, outside of the normal budget process.

 

Serving the public under the COVID-19 outbreak

  1. What are the biggest challenges in your district in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?
    The biggest challenges revolve around the ability of working people to survive. Thousands of tenants in AD57 cannot pay rent and need rent relief immediately. My district is also home to many essential workers and, as a nurse, I am especially concerned that we secure enough protective equipment to keep everyone safe.  I am also especially concerned about the great number of people who still don’t have access to unemployment benefits.
  1. What are the appropriate roles of city, state, and federal governments in a crisis such as this?
    I believe that the role of the government, at each level, is to ensure that we all have what we need to survive, while making decisions as democratically as possible given the circumstances. Given that lots of power is concentrated at the state level, I am especially disappointed that our governor has not called for remote legislative sessions to consider important emergency measures, such as rent and mortgage cancellation.
  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?
    I am a community organizer and care especially about spreading important information to my fellow community members. I would organize community members to make calls to our neighbors, to spread information about loans and unemployment benefits.

 

CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS

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

Campaign Promise 1
I will work as hard as possible to pass the New York Health Act and Safe Staffing for healthcare workers.

Campaign Promise 2
I will fight for universal rent control, including the Good Cause Eviction Bill and the elimination of MCIs.

Campaign Promise 3
I will advocate as strongly as possible for a Green New Deal in New York, which honors the following broad points:

  1. Transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030.
  2. Stop the construction of all new fossil fuel infrastructure.
  3. Ensure that all new green jobs are union jobs.
  4. Make our power system publicly owned and operated, saving money for users instead of creating corporate profits.
  5. Fund these programs by taxing the rich and powerful.

Campaign Promise 4
Oppose developments in my district that are not 100% affordable for the median community member.

Campaign Promise 5
Do everything I can to support the labor movement.

 

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.
Two of my most fundamental political values are democracy and care . I’ve always been concerned to represent and respect the views of all my neighbors and fellow coworkers, as President of my tenant association and as a NYSNA member. As a nurse, I am proud to take care of my patients and always advocate for their interests. I intend to treat my constituents, if elected, in accordance with these two basic values.

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