NYC Mayoral Candidates Feature Article: Everyone’s talking about the unprecedented upcoming New York City mayoral election: the unconventional candidates, the top eight contenders, and the introduction of ranked-choice voting. 

Art Chang knows that the ideal candidate is passionate, credible, and capable of implementing the changes the city needs right now. Chang currently ranks ninth in the race, and what makes that extraordinary is that he accomplished this on a modest campaign budget of $140,000. To put this in perspective, Andrew Yang the top contender has spent in excess of $2 million. Chang is the only candidate offering office hours to discuss issues and personally answer your questions – so ciaooo! joined him on a private Zoom call to listen to his compelling story, progressive strategies, and what sets him apart from the other candidates. 

NYC Mayoral Candidates: Art Chang Discusses Climate Change & The Environment

Born to Korean immigrants, Chang experienced domestic violence and left home at the age of fourteen. After moving to NYC and the failure of his first business, he eventually moved on to build Queens West (what we now call Long Island City) featuring two mixed-use buildings and a marsh ecosystem – with climate change, the environment, and affordable housing in mind. This is a big topic among all the mayoral candidates this year, and Chang was ahead of his time – this was developed in 1994! It was also one of the only two waterfront developments that didn’t lose power during Hurricane Sandy and the first to offer universal broadband. Chang vows to continue working to fortify NYC’s infrastructure against climate change and the additional environmental effects it has on marginalized communities by: 

  • Establishing additional car-free streets to encourage more efficient modes of transportation
  • Electrifying NYC buses
  • Incorporating solar panels and green roofs into the affordable housing sector

These changes will reduce childhood asthma, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality.

NYC Mayoral Candidates: Art Chang Discusses Universal Childcare

Chang knows first-hand the importance and value of caregivers to families. His son, Ben, was at the daycare inside of the World Trade Center during the attacks on 9/11. One of the daycare workers helped to rescue him and other children from the terrifying event. Chang recognizes the significance of these providers to children and to the economy, especially post-COVID19. As Mayor, he plans to implement free childcare centers to alleviate the financial burden on working parents. 

Art Chang NYC Mayoral Candidate 2021
Art Chang NYC Mayoral Candidate 2021

Focusing on the Arts Industry

One-third of workers in NYC are freelancers. The entertainment industry brings in tourism and is the center of the economy, yet its workers were left behind during COVID-19. They did not receive the relief benefits and were the most heavily impacted. Their absence also caused local businesses, which relied on the consumerism of the Broadway crowd, to suffer. Chang’s policy will streamline the permit process for performances and artistic programs, offer tax benefits to landlords willing to donate their empty spaces in support of the arts, and allocate funds for arts education and promotion.

NYC Mayoral Candidates Art Chang Discusses Current Events

During our Zoom call with Chang, we discussed his interesting and insightful take on what’s going on in the world today and how it effects our city. We reached out to him after our meeting to ask him about issues relevant to 2021.

Tell us a little bit about your background as it relates to your innovative plans to incorporate technology within the New York government, and why is this so important?

“We deserve a city that does more with less, a city that’s efficient, with lower costs and better outcomes. We deserve a city that is transparent, so you can hold me accountable,” says Chang. “We deserve these things. Technology is essential to get them done.”

In order to make NYC more user-friendly, unbiased, fair, and reliable, it’s important to integrate technology into basic governmental functions such as:

  • Small-business permit approvals in a single app
  • Easy access to safety-net benefits such as SNAP and WIC
  • Inventory of affordable apartments built using city tax incentives

Joe Biden unveiled an eight-year, two-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan last month, but it is still unclear how that will directly impact New York City. How does your infrastructure strategy supplement this plan?

“My infrastructure strategy is fully aligned with the President’s plan, but with the divided senate, the timing and ultimate details will remain uncertain. New Yorkers can’t wait for the federal government. We must do more with what we have while advancing the plan’s objectives.”

Immediate action is needed to implement infrastructure improvements. As mayor, Chang promises to:

  • Implement universal childcare and create union jobs for childcare workers
  • Create low-income housing 
  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Lead a city-wide plan for housing, streets, parks, and transportation

The March 29th assault of an Asian woman in Manhattan is the latest attack on the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community. What needs to be done to ensure that New York City continues to be a safe and welcoming environment for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds?

The heartbreaking and unfortunate recent rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans brings back painful memories for Chang. In 1968, his kindergarten teacher refused to teach him because her brother was fighting people with similar features in Vietnam. He believes NYC should be a place where everyone feels safe. He intends to ensure this by:

  • Implementing unarmed rapid response teams with Asian language capabilities
  • Working with local Asian organizations and elected officials to ensure on-the-street presence in key neighborhoods
  • Bringing together anti-hate groups in the Asian, Black, Muslim, and Jewish communities 
  • Working with educators, parents, and students on age-appropriate ethnic studies curricula

“I moved to a New York City that accepts everyone. Where people of all races, and genders, and identities, people who never fit in and who always felt different, can come and belong.”

With just ten weeks until the primaries, it’s important to educate ourselves on all the potential candidates and what they stand for. After all, this is the individual who will be representing and working for NYC for the next four to eight years! Make sure to do your research (and your part!) and vote in the 2021 mayoral election

Angela Caico

Angela is a full-time Journalism major at Buffalo State College. When she's not working as an Uber driver, she loves hanging out with her teenage daughter, cruising around the city in her Jeep Wrangler, or drinking wine with her friends. She likes to try out a new restaurant each week (open to suggestions!) and has a crazy obsession with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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