Continuing our series of political “Snapshots,” the Bronx Times sat down with each of the Bronx’s recently elected officials for a discussion on their 2022 legislative agendas and issues of importance to their districts.
Neighborhood: Throggs Neck
Political ideology: Democrat
Fun Fact: Velázquez shares an Aug. 11 birthday with hip-hop.
Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez this year replaced Mark Gjonaj as the representative for City Council District 13, which includes 18 neighborhoods spanning the east Bronx.
Her priorities are job creation, transportation and equitable health care.
Velázquez’s district recently welcomed the new Ferry Point Park ferry stop in Throggs Neck, which she sees not just as a transportation option she advocated for coming to fruition, but also a way to attract shoppers to the district who can support small stores on East Tremont Avenue. She also sees an opportunity for local restaurants to have pop-up stands in the park so ferry riders can get a taste of the district.
The councilwoman wants to work with the city to make sure the park is “actually reflecting the needs of the community,” from transportation to the ferry to park hours and proper lighting.
“You’ve got a baseline, now how do you add on to it?” she said.
Velázquez wants to merge her mission to support small businesses — like ensuring they get a shot at grants — with workforce development and apprenticeship opportunities for high schoolers.
The new councilwoman, who has struggled with injuries in the past that made it hard to get around the city, wants to hold the MTA accountable for accessibility projects, such as subway elevators.
“When we’re talking about transit options we have to make sure that we’re including everyone,” she said.
As for health care in New York, she has four words: “We can do better.” Velázquez said she wants to work with state and federal partners to hold insurance companies accountable and improve a health care system that leaves people in crippling debt.
Both in her own experience and those of loved ones, the Latina has seen women of color not being taken as seriously as their white counterparts when it comes to pain.
“When we’re talking about structural changes that need to happen, it’s digging into why does this happen and how can we address this in a holistic manner?” she said. “Because I can’t afford to lose another friend.”
Velázquez said the Bronx should have a women’s and children’s health center, as Manhattan and Queens each have two.
As a councilwoman, she plans to continue to hear from health care workers about their experiences and partner with state lawmakers to tackle policy changes.
“Nothing is easy,” Velázquez acknowledged. “It’s nuanced and it’s going to take a lot of work together.”
But with an increasingly diverse City Council, along with a new speaker and new mayor from outer boroughs, council members can actually address disparities instead of having to simply prove they exist, she said.
If you haven’t already done so, read our previous Snapshot on Diana Ayala, who represents parts of the South Bronx and east Harlem.
Reach Aliya Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.