On Tuesday, September 13, Democrats will go to the polls in the 46th Assembly District to vote in the primary. Running are incumbent Assemblymember Pamela Harris and challenger Kate Cucco.
The 46th A.D. includes portions of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and portions of Coney Island, Seagate and Brighton Beach, with the two disparate sections of the district connected by the Belt Parkway.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Click here to check the location of your polling place.
Assemblymember Pamela Harris, who was elected in November, 2015 to fill out the remainder of her predecessor Alec Brook-Krasny’s term, counts as her biggest achievement her ongoing effort to merge the two sides of the very diverse and geographically divided district.
“I believe my main accomplishment is to continue to marry the communities into the strong 46th Assembly District it actually is,” Harris, a Coney Island resident, told this paper. “I believe we want the same things – safety, clean streets, working class housing, senior housing, seeing our veterans taken care of, continuing to have great school districts, so we need to give teachers and kids the resources they need.”
With an office in each half of the district, Harris also said she has been careful to make sure both sides of the district share equally in her attention and in the all-important allocation of funding.
When she got to Albany, she recalled, she discovered that some funding that had been initially secured by Brook-Krasny hadn’t been allocated formally. “That meant the money could go back to the state and the district could have lost it,” she stressed. “I let the speaker know I intended to use the funding,” which was in two pots, $1.5 million in state and municipal funding that she was able to split equally between the two sections of the district, and $1.9 million in funding earmarked for NYCHA housing complexes that will go to replacing aging appliances there.
With the $1.5 million pot, Harris said, she allocated $250,000 to P.S. 104 in Bay Ridge and $250,000 to P.S. 288 in Coney Island, as well as $125,000 each to the 68th Precinct (in Bay Ridge) and the 60th Precinct (in Coney Island), and $5,000 to each of the senior centers in the district. She also allocated $125,000 to Hatzolah (in Seagate) and $125,000 to Bravo (in Bay Ridge), making sure, she stressed, that both sides shared equally in the funding.
Harris has also, she stressed, reached out to constituents across the district to learn their concerns. Based on the responses, she became a prime sponsor of a bill dealing with liability and penalties for illegal conversions that is currently being tweaked.
In addition, a bill for which she was a prime sponsor dealing with NORCs (naturally occurring retirement communities) was just signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, something of which she is very proud. “The district has a huge senior population so this affects both sides,” she stressed.
How serious is Harris about taking feedback from constituents? She said that she had “put out different postcards” on various issues, and personally responded, either by phone or in person, to every answer she got back. And she said that when constituents call the office, her staff notifies her and she responds personally “almost immediately.”
As a result of complaints she received about the slowness of area buses, she said she would be riding the B36 just before this paper went to press, and would be following up with a ride on the Third Avenue bus in Bay Ridge, to see for herself and film exactly what the problems are.
“The main thing,” Harris stressed, “is I continue to talk with constituents, hear their concerns, then try to make some headway with them. I think if I continue to be earnest with my constituents, we can do really, really well together. I’m not making promises. I’m going to make solutions.”