Kim Moscaritolo is running to replace Ben Kallos as 5th District City Council Member. The 5th covers the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.
We invited the candidate to answer some questions, letting voter know who she is, her qualifications and what she hopes to accomplish.
Q&A with Kim Moscaritolo
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Who are you? Where did you grow up? How did it influence your values and what did you learn?
I’m Kim Moscaritolo. I’m a journalist, a community advocate and progressive activist. I grew up in South Florida as the daughter of a Cuban refugee. I attended public schools my entire life. When I was in high school, my family’s small business failed when a large chain moved in across the street, forcing us to declare bankruptcy. My parents didn’t have the money to send me to a private college, but I was able to attend the University of Florida’s School of Journalism and Communication on in-state tuition, which is where I discovered my passion for broadcast news. I started working at CNN right out of college.
My experiences growing up have strongly shaped my values: I believe that everyone should have access to a quality education, regardless of socioeconomic status, so I’m a strong advocate of public schools and universities. As the daughter of an immigrant and a teacher, I understand that immigrants make our country great and that teachers work incredibly hard, so I believe that our city government can and should support our working families. Finally, I know that small businesses are invaluable to our local economy and community, and employ thousands of workers in our city. I have a comprehensive plan for protecting and supporting the mom-and-pop businesses in our city as Council Member.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Tell us about your schooling, mentors, importing learning experiences.
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication and Broadcast News from the University of Florida School of Journalism and Communication. I was able to attend college on in-state tuition, through a combination of scholarships, some money from my parents, and a part-time job. I began working the overnight shift as the board operator at my school’s radio station as a way to help pay for my tuition, but it was here that I discovered my love for TV and radio. I decided to change my major from print journalism to broadcast news. I learned a tremendous amount during my time at UF. My very first beat was the City Commission, reporting on local community issues. I covered their meetings and interviewed city officials for my reports. This experience laid the groundwork for my involvement in local politics and gave me greater insights into the inner workings of local government.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: You did important work for CNN. Can you explain how your work experiences led to your political work?
I spent 20 years as a journalist, at CNN and Bloomberg News, working to cover some of the biggest news stories of the 21st century. I won an Emmy Award for my contributions to CNN’s coverage of the September 11th attacks. As a journalist, my job was to get the truth to the people, a role that I believe is critically important. I witnessed how our government responded to crises like Hurricane Sandy, how our elected leaders massaged the truth to further their own agendas, how the most powerful and well-connected New Yorkers had opportunities to thrive while regular working families were being left behind. I loved my work as a journalist, but about 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to be more than just an observer—I wanted to be part of making real change. I got involved with the Manhattan Young Democrats to elect real progressives to government, and I fell in love with political activism. I joined the Living Wage coalition to fight for workers, and as President of the Manhattan Young Democrats, I fought against hydrofracking, lobbied for the DREAM Act and reproductive rights, and worked to re-elect Barack Obama.
My experience as a journalist has given me a strong belief in the importance of transparency and accountability in government. In 2015, I was elected Democratic District Leader in an insurgent campaign, running on a platform of ethics reform. Since then, I have fought to ban paid lobbyists in our county party’s leadership and worked towards real transparency in politics. It’s this passion for transparency and accountability that I will bring to City Council. I am the only candidate in this race with a comprehensive platform to make our city government more transparent and guarantee real oversight of city agencies, so we can get things done.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Our current council member started out progressive, but soon slipped into the Cuomo/RIOC stream. He shows up for every photo op but has done little for Roosevelt Island. Can you tell us how you’d deal with RIOC to help the community get a voice? We’re now in the unenviable position of being the highest taxed place in the nation and the least democratic. Not one of our electeds is willing to address this problem. Can you?
As Council Member, I will be sure to actively prioritize the voices of the Roosevelt Island community. I will make myself accessible, through public office hours on Roosevelt Island and virtually, to ensure that every resident is heard. I will actively advocate for Roosevelt Islanders on the city and state level, and lobby our state leaders for change. I’ll fight to preserve affordable housing on the island, and ensure that big businesses and organizations, like Cornell Tech, make good on their promises to Roosevelt Island, through active oversight and advocacy at the state level.
It’s ridiculous and unjust that residents of Roosevelt Island pay city taxes, yet receive no real funding from the city budget. As Council Member, I will work to ensure that Roosevelt Island is represented in our city budget beyond participatory budgeting.
Finally, I will fight for more representation for Roosevelt Island. I will advocate that at least half of the RIOC board be elected by Roosevelt Island residents. The Governor has enormous control of Roosevelt Island through his RIOC board appointees, but I believe that with real commitment, we can lobby our state government for real change in representation.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: You’ve staked out strong support for animals and the environment. We’ve seen environmental decline here and efforts by RIOC to punish animal rescue for speaking out on environmental issues. Your thoughts on reversing RIOC’s direction…
I am a huge advocate for animals, and am honored to have been endorsed by Voters for Animal Rights and NYCLASS, organizations that prioritize animal rights, urban ecology protections, and a humane society for animals and people alike. I have also received Resilience PAC’s Resilience Builder Distinction for my commitment to fighting the climate crisis in New York City with holistic solutions that address social, ecological, and physical vulnerabilities.
Roosevelt Island has a unique natural landscape, and I am committed to preserving and protecting its beautiful wildlife, as well as ensuring the safety and stability of the island’s waterfront seawall to protect against flooding. First, I will advocate that all new projects require an environmental impact study and seek to mitigate disruptions to local ecology and resilience. I will fight to bring back composting programs and direct city funding to humane animal rescue, renewable energy projects, and sustainable building retrofits on the island. I will advocate that the state protects against flooding from rising sea levels with active infrastructure adaptations. Finally, I will seek real input from environmental experts and the Roosevelt Island community and fight to ensure that all plans, whether at the city or state level, are transparent to the community.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Multiple RIOC scandals go uninvestigated. Apparent rigged bidding to get rid of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program and reward RIOC staff; a contaminated water crisis caused by RIOC’s violating environmental regulations; going ahead with radical remaking of Southpoint Park while refusing to address obvious issues with toxic wastes and permanent environmental losses; the failure of RIOC’s board to exercise fiduciary oversight in the Cuomo directed firing of Susan Rosenthal and a shuffle of promotions and increased salaries that followed; RIOC staff investing around $500,000 in a COVID rapid testing site, without board approval, awarding a company with no experience after rejecting six companies recommended by DOH… And those are just for starters. How would you work to hold RIOC accountable now and into the future?
I’m running for City Council with a comprehensive plan for real government oversight, transparency, and accountability, based on my experience as a journalist. This includes standing up to RIOC for Roosevelt Islanders. First, I will use my power as a Council Member to help investigate wrongdoings by RIOC. I will also work with RIOC to ensure that there is transparency around all decisions, including having open meetings to seek real community input. I will work with my colleagues in Albany to ensure that there is proper oversight of RIOC’s finances at the state level to avoid malfeasance, whether intentional or unintentional. Finally, I will continue to advocate that at least half of all RIOC board positions be elected by residents, to ensure that Roosevelt Islanders have more of a say in the leadership and operations of RIOC, and are held accountable by elections.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Small businesses are struggling, of course, and have been even before the pandemic. What specific ideas do you have for a better small business climate?
Protecting and promoting our local businesses is a crucial platform to my campaign, because small businesses are vital to our local economy and culture. . In 2019, I founded Yorkville Buy Local, an organization focused on promoting and protecting small businesses on the Upper East Side, because I saw how my neighborhood was affected by empty storefronts, even before COVID-19. Since the pandemic, 40% of small businesses have closed in New York City, and we need to do everything in our power to help the ones that are left survive.
I am the only candidate in this race who has put out a detailed plan to save our small businesses, titled Working Toward Small Business Recovery. New York City has the ability to act boldly to ensure that small businesses and their employees have the ability to thrive. First, the City should provide direct financial relief in the form of grants and loans, as well as actively connecting small business owners to state and federal relief programs. We must also do more to address rising costs, including passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would establish good faith standards for commercial lease negotiations, reducing the tax burden for small businesses, and requiring businesses interruption policies to cover the fallout of COVID-19. The City must do better to actively communicate the ever-changing rules and regulations with small business owners; and make it easier for owners to navigate numerous city agencies and fines. Finally, we must crack down on large tech companies that exploit small businesses and delivery workers. You can read more about my plan for small businesses at bit.ly/kimsmallbusiness.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: Transportation is a huge issue, especially on Roosevelt Island, and Cuomo’s MTA appears to prioritize a wealthier part of you district with increased service on the 2nd Avenue Line but nothing for here where crowding is far worse. Your thoughts? Mayor de Blasio’s support for NYC Ferry is expensive and will be in jeopardy after he leaves office. Where do you stand on maintaining or even expanding NYC Ferry? The MTA has plains to greatly curtain bus service for Roosevelt Island. The plan stalled during the pandemic, but is still pending. Have you formed an opinion?
As a volunteer for the 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival, I witnessed firsthand the ongoing transportation issues that the residents of Roosevelt Island face. The influx of visitors overwhelmed the Island’s already inadequate transportation options, causing safety concerns and stranding people for hours. As Council Member, I will work with residents to address transportation concerns, with a focus on ensuring that the needs of residents are prioritized. I will advocate for expanded bus and subway service on Roosevelt Island. I’ll explore tram and ferry options that allow Roosevelt Island residents to travel to and from work without having to fight for space among visitors and tourists, and work with state representatives to improve existing transportation infrastructure, particularly the Roosevelt Island Bridge. I will also advocate for an expansion of the ferry service while working to cut costs for residents.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: The climate is severely challenged as we all know, but how do you see yourself pushing for local improvement. Although just outside your district, the Ravenswood Power Station is the second worst polluting in New York State, still using #6 fuel oil to produce electricity. It’s quietly probably our greatest environmental issue because we are affected from being so close, but there’s never been much of any progress. And in fact, the plant is growing without improving.
I have been named a Resilience Builder by Resilience PAC for my commitment to fighting the climate crisis in New York City with holistic solutions that address social, ecological, and physical vulnerabilities. I am a vocal supporter of the Climate Mobilization Act, which will reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. As Council Member, I will work to ensure that we reach those goals, and I would fight any efforts to weaken the legislation.
There are many changes we can enact at the local level to combat climate change, protect our local ecology, and ensure our neighborhoods are resilient to climate stresses and shocks. As Council Member, I’ll work to pass legislation that prioritizes low emission forms of transportation and expands our bus and subway service to encourage usage; protects our greenspaces, urban canopy, and wildlife; reaches and surpasses the City’s Zero Waste Goals by 2030 through organic waste collection, better recycling programs, and creative waste usage. I will work to combat climate change through legislation that encourages energy retrofits in buildings and subsidizes renewable energy projects in local communities; and ensure that Roosevelt Island is protected from rising sea levels with adaptable waterfront infrastructure.
I am fully supportive of legislation passed by New York State in 2019 that would mandate that the Ravenswood Generating Station’s three remaining peaker units—all more than 50 years old—will be decommissioned by 2023. This change will go a long way towards helping the state reach its goal of 100 percent carbon-free power by 2040.
- Roosevelt Island Daily: In the apparent interest of drawing tourists and pleasing real estate developers in defiance of community preferences, RIOC reinventing Southpoint Park as a sort of Brooklyn Bridge Park North, but it’s part of a longer term pattern. What can you do to preserve what’s left of our environment?
Roosevelt Island is home to wonderful plant and animal life, which I will work to protect as Council Member, so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. I believe that RIOC can make the area more accessible without damaging our local ecology and reducing the habitat for birds and other animals.
I will work with RIOC and demand that residents’ voices are heard with regard to development. I believe in community-driven planning, not planning driven by real estate developers, and therefore I will host town halls and visioning meetings to understand the needs of the community so that future developments take these into account. I will also fight for more resources to be directed to local community groups that are already doing the hard work of maintaining the island’s beautiful environment.
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