Sept. 18, 2020 By Christian Murray
We talk to Zohran Mamdani, a self-described socialist who will be representing the 36th Assembly District in Albany next year.
Mamdani, 28, is an Astoria resident who won the Democratic primary against incumbent Aravella Simotas in June in what proved to be a very competitive race. He was the only Queens assembly candidate endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.
Mamdani, who will represent a district that covers Astoria, discusses his platform that aims to tackle the housing crisis, inequities in the criminal justice system, the inequalities of the public-school system, and a transportation system that he believes should include free MTA fares and better infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.
He talks about the need for a progressive income tax structure to pay for many of the services that he believes should be free. He advocates increasing the personal income tax rate on people who earn more than $150,000 a year as well as taxing Wall Street.
Mamdani, who was previously a foreclosure prevention specialist, plans to focus heavily on the housing crisis. He talks about the need for universal rent control—which would cover all market rate apartments with the exception of most 2-to-3-family homes—to protect tenants in a similar manner as rent stabilization.
He talks about the need for a state flip tax—or short-term capital gains tax– to prevent speculators buying and selling property within 12 months for a hefty profit.
Mamdani said that one in four homes are bought by unnamed investors in Astoria which he says is leading to residents being priced out.
He is calling for the complete elimination of cash bail and solitary confinement, as well as a reduction in funding for the NYPD. While the NYPD budget falls under the purview of the city council, Mamdani said he will use his bully pulpit to advocate for the reallocation of those funds to homeless services and other areas that the NYPD is not best equipped to handle.