Bronx education expert, mother of three vying to make history by winning Andy King’s council seat

Courtesy of Pamela Johnson

One City Council District 12 candidate seeks to make history as not only the first woman, but woman of color, to represent that northeast section of the Bronx on Centre Street this December.

She is Pamela Johnson, an education professional and former stay-at-home mom of three who grew up with a single mother in NYCHA housing.

Johnson is the president of Community Education Council (CEC) 11 for District 12, where she and others opened six schools and raised an estimated $1.2 million in funds.

She is also the founder of Eastchester Heights-based educational nonprofit Urban Neighborhood, a consultant for the city’s Department of Education, and has served on the education committee of Community Board 12 for some years.

Johnson also previously ran against now-expelled City Councilman Andy King in 2017 for that same District 12 seat she’s currently vying for.

Calling her run a “fresh” opportunity for the northeast Bronx, Johnson’s main campaign issues, in addition to education, are housing and the preservation of small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education

As both CEC president and DOE consultant, Johnson said she has the perspective of both “a parent side and institution side” towards education.

She is sharply critical that the DOE “could have done better” at getting learning devices and technology to students and families in need.

Johnson called on Verizon to provide temporary, free internet to those households, also saying that the DOE has internet-ready devices which could be distributed.

She continued, saying that there is state money owed from contracts for excellence as well as charter school reimbursement monies which could feasibly be collected and allocated to solve the ongoing tech issue.

The candidate also said that attaining proper ventilation for schools to get through the pandemic is an important issue she is focused on for District 12.

Housing

When it comes to affordable housing, Johnson wants to shift the 80/20 ratio of market to affordable housing to closer figures of 70/30 out of an obligation “to help people.”

She also said that it is a more economically sound decision to keep people in their homes rather than transition them into shelter systems.

“It’s so much cheaper keeping people in their apartments,” Johnson said, later adding her pledge to fund city’s food pantry system for those in need as well.

Saving small businesses

Johnson is a sharp supporter of the small jobs survival act, she told the Bronx Times.

Saying that small businesses bring “huge revenue” to her prospective Bronx district, Johnson would look into getting these shops tax credits and other needed assistance to keep their doors open through the rigors and restrictions COVID-19 has implicated.

The City Council candidate also emphasized that Bronx small businesses often employ those “difficult to hire” such as formerly incarcerated individuals and those who have disabilities.

In wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to close indoor dining, Johnson also made her pledge to aid local restaurants for many reasons, a particular one being that they often hire from the LGBTQ community.

Early voting for the District 12 City Council race runs from Dec. 12 to 20 and the official election day is Dec. 22. Visit the Board of Elections website at findmypollsite.vote.nyc to find early voting and election day sites. 

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