My mother’s family had lived in Harlem all of their lives. But when I was born, my mother was forced to acknowledge the injustice that was New York City public schools. She knew that she could not take a chance with her son’s education. She used every dollar that she had to move out to a neighborhood with a great public school system. I have since returned to my home, Harlem, and found that some things have not changed. I know we can do better.
I am exploring a run for City Council in Harlem because our community should not be forced to make the decision my mother made so long ago: to stay and accept over-priced housing, under-funded schools and minimal job opportunities; or to move elsewhere. I know that we have a chance to create many jobs by working with small businesses to ensure they hire our neighbors and life-long residents, just as I have advocated throughout my career as a teacher and lawyer.
For me, this fight is personal. Every Harlemite deserves the opportunity to receive a great education, a great job and affordable housing right here. To make that happen, Harlem needs elected officials that reflect the values of our community. As an advocate for our neighborhoods, I was honored to represent our residents in the 2017 City Council election. That is why I went to court to end a rent scam operated by a State Senate candidate running in our district. And that’s why I’m considering running today.
I hope to serve on your City Council to help Harlem get the resources it needs and the leadership it deserves. Please show your support by learning more about and donating to the campaign as I consider running in 2021!
We strongly encourage the use of masks in New York City and through out the country to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (“COVID-19”) and have advocated for mask distribution for our local organizations supporting our community members since the pandemic first began. In New York City we have 282,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 24,099 COVID-19 fatalities. As responsible New Yorkers and Americans, we must consider the inherent safety risk of traveling throughout a community, state or country without proper personal protective equipment. We also call on all leaders, including politicians, to wear a mask, and restrict travel over the holiday season.
We encourage the Trump Administration to stop playing games with New Yorker’s lives when it comes to delivering vaccines, and instead ensure that our most underserved communities are amongst the first, and not the last, to have these options available to help stop the rapid spread of Covid-19. I am calling for a smooth and peaceful transition and congratulate the New Biden administration with President-elect Joseph R. Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala D. Harris on a tremendous victory. Under our combined new leadership New York City will provide PPE at a rapid rate, communicating distribution plans with community members, and encouraging mask wearing in the City. We are against mandatory vaccinations.
We will not accept a 12% effective unemployment rate (Harlem’s numbers prior to COVID-19), which we understand was already much higher in reality and has persisted for decades. We have created a plan with the local business community to incentivize local hiring, as it must be our community members that benefit from neighborhood economic activity. We are committed to substantially decreasing the unemployment rate in Harlem in the face of all challenges. The Gooding Plan will bring money and jobs to Harlem and begin to put Harlem First.
With the devastation coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment in NYC is currently at 18%, double the current national average. A rent moratorium by itself will not stop this current crisis, which is about to get much worse without strong leadership. We call for the extension of unemployment benefits that end on December 27th along with an extension on the moratorium. Local government must take direct responsibility for its constituents, start directly creating jobs and supporting the local businesses that employ our residents, and stop wasting tax payer dollars with projects that do not positively impact them like the EB-5 investor visa program debacle which took money out of Harlem to pay for the Hudson Yards Project.
Pierre has also found that many individuals and businesses in Harlem were unable to receive their unemployment checks even though they met the criteria, and has worked to undo this injustice by suing the NY Department of Labor when necessary. We believe that it is this type of immediate action that will undo the massive structural injustices currently inflicted upon our community daily.
Pregnancy related deaths have been steadily on the rise since 1987. Black women are 5x more likely to die from childbirth than others. We are committed to investment in our hospitals, research and workers to ensure that Harlem is a destination for child birth and child care and to prevent the tragic loss of life of women and children during care. This focus must persist despite the budget deficit which will be exacerbated by the economic slowdown due to Covid-19.
90% of New York City’s prison population is black or Hispanic. Gooding has seen the devastating effects that bad laws and policy can have on our community, including the issues associated with women’s prisons. Gooding will address these issues with legal reform that ends violence against inmates, provides additional mental health resources and provides support for those transitioning back to their community.
Pierre is also an advocate for city programs, financial resources, focus and implementation that encourages entrepreneurship, including local start-up business development, and additional incentives for these start ups to hire locally. We believe that without proper economic development in the community, Harlemites will continue to be at a disadvantage in every space, including lacking access to top legal counsel to avoid jailtime unlike wealthier neighboring districts. Gooding is a strong advocate for the reversal of all NYC policy that decreases mental health evaluations, including within prisons. Gooding instead encourages the increase in mental health resources and treatment.
We believe in changing current laws that are leading to mass incarceration of young black men, including draconian laws such as Penal Code 221.05 that encourage fines or imprisonment instead of business development. The $160,000 that is spent to incarcerate each inmate is a good starting point for investment and re-investment in our community members. Gooding believes New York City should create its own policies, regardless of what Albany is saying or doing. The City must also create direct pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals to receive housing and jobs immediately upon returning home. The current housing voucher program that is in place is inadequate as landlords routinely reject the voucher, often arbitrarily. Gooding believes that any plan to close Riker’s Island that does not deal with the fundamental structural violence occurring in Harlem is devoid of meaning. We also advocate for fair distribution, and not just new prisons in four out of the five boroughs.
I am calling for an immediate shut down of our schools and implementation of virtual learning to stop the spread of Covid-19. Also under no circumstances should a school be open without using Abbott Rapid Testing, with false negatives and positives controlled for by running the test 2 times (or a third of first two resultes contradictory) which will take no more than 30 minutes for most students, and will still be cheaper than the the tests the NYC Department of Education is currently using. This must be done so that we know if a student has Covid-19 before the child commences the school day and interacts with the other people in the building. The tests being used in schools currently take 48-72 hours for results, which is unacceptable and in no way protects children or teachers in a closed door school setting.
As a teacher, I understand the heavy burden parents have when students are told to stay home. We will provide financial, social and educational support at a City level to ease this additional tension. While the current administration seriously lags in coherent Covid-19 policy, New York can take the lead on saving lives by adhering to coherent pandemic policy over the next 8 weeks and beyond.
We will bring quality to schools in Harlem. The school I would have gone to had my mother stayed in Harlem is ranked 1984th on schooldigger. The classroom that I taught in did not even have an air conditioner. We can and will do better. We currently have four libraries and two certified media specialists / librarians in one of our main school districts in Harlem, CEC D5. This is outrageous and I have advocated for change as seen in the letter, with the Department of Education promising to do so. As an educator, I believe in goal-driven planning, data-driven instruction, instilling confidence in our students that they can do the work, and pairing that with career opportunities in the future. We know what works for our children, but we have to do the hard work to make sure that they succeed. I am proud to have worked early on during the pandemic to ensure that all children in New York City have Remote Learning Devices for at home instruction, a story you can read about in various articles.
I also believe that it is our responsibility to prepare our Harlem children for success at all levels, including excelling on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (“SHSAT”). While bureaucrats fight over the future of the test, our students must be ready to do well on the date of the exam and cannot wait for us electeds to figure it out with their future on the line. Schools in Harlem must be among the best in the State, and as a teacher I will fight for higher salaries for our teachers not despite, but because of this Pandemic. Our teachers have been on the front lines and must be rewarded.
We must also increase our attention on quality vocational schooling. Too many young adults are being left out of our economy because we do not give them a chance to succeed at the academic level by learning and cultivating their interest(s). Drop out rates for minority children in NYC are double the rate of white children, making our attention on this issue pivotal. We will bring these changes, along with Culturally Relevant Teaching. I also demand the end of common core, a curriculum that is out of touch, in favor of the Next Generation Learning Standards, developed by New York teachers, parents, specialists and administrators.
We have a crisis around Harlem residents not being able to afford their housing. Harlem has seen one of the sharpest increases in rental and housing prices of any district in New York City. Although Harlem has always had an iconic history, it recently has become a hot spot to live, creating less housing supply in the market. Any initiative that creates new “affordable” housing for our residents must ensure that program income thresholds are commensurate with the median income of $34,365 in Harlem so that our community members have reasonable access to this improved housing supply. We believe that lowering the unemployment rate is positively correlated with ensuring Harlemites can afford these increases in rent.
Harlem must take the lead in presentation of healthy eating options in schools and throughout our neighborhood to combat chronic health issues that have persisted in our community for decades. There is a tremendous opportunity to help our future by ensuring our school children have healthy school meals, that our children and community has access to fresh produce, and that we fund, maintain and create more community gardens like the Garden of Love in Harlem. We believe the need to cultivate a green community is directly correlated with increasing the quality of life and health of Harlemites, and will fight every day to make nutrition a top issue in City Council.
We will bring much-needed, community-oriented, LEED certified-clean buildings to Harlem. For starters, our children are disproportionately afflicted with asthma (another serious issue which must be proactively solved, and not just discussed or debated). Our buildings must be environmentally friendly to protect the health of our children and Harlemites generally. We can also reduce the City debt during these times when the City is $7 Billion dollars in debt by utilizing Public Private Partnerships that reduce the burden on our Harlem taxpayers while yielding structures our community can use such as technologically sound community spaces, LGBTQIA+ spaces for support, and elder suited senior centers which are currently non-existent in Harlem.
Anyone that walks along 125th can identify the current problem with our built environment, which is that it is disjointed, lacks focus or purpose, and grossly mismanages one of the most iconic streets and spaces in the world, a literal block away from my birthplace in the Grant Houses. Our district must also fight to ensure that its sight line is preserved, as buildings in Harlem continue to go up at a historic pace with very little current oversight from our City Council leadership.
We are for the responsible reallocation of New York City tax payer dollars to fund essential services, alternative responders, de-escalation training, schools, and social/educational programs. Pierre implored the Mayor and City Council to be fiscally responsible and create a rainy day fund when the City had a budget surplus of $5 Billion Dollars. Now that the City is running at a $9 Billion dollar deficit all entities will see cuts. We must be smart with how every dollar in our budget is spent moving forward. We will also continue to build partnerships with our woman and men in blue so that our community benefits from police protection and does not devolve into chaos as been reported firsthand by residents in Brooklyn. This type of partnership between Pierre and the NYPD helped ensure Jon Girodes received jail time for scamming Harlemites while on the ballot from Rikers.
There is also a parallel need that is less talked about to change NY Penal code 35.30 from a subjective standard (if an officer is in fear he or she can use deadly force) to an objective standard (If a reasonable person is in fear he or she can use deadly force) which is still in effect in New York. Gooding can and will get both of these initiatives done.
New York City is the number one city for numbers of homeless persons. Pierre ran two homeless shelters in Harlem and Queens respectively over the past 3 years and understands that the issue is multifaceted. Gooding believes that city oriented professional development is lacking, and wants to change that immediately through voting on policy at a City Council level. Gooding is also for ensuring homeless community members, like all residents, have affordable housing, a job for a livable income, and good schools in the neighborhood to send our children.
Harlem Hall of Heaven
To honor all those that been lost due to senseless violence, whether during a police altercation or other unfortunate incident, we will create a museum dedicated to celebrating the lives of these individuals and exploring the root causes of these tragedies. Many politicians talk about development along 125th St. but the projects that are being completed currently have very little to do with the history and culture that make Harlem historic and iconic. It is time to change that and put Harlem first.
Pierre is honored to serve as legal counsel for over 800 Ghanaians who were recently marooned in Ghana due to COVID-19 with no recourse from the United States Government. By working with international entities, partners and the Ghanaian Government, along with taking political and legal action in the US, Gooding was able to successfully ensure that these US Citizens made it back safely to America. Gooding believes that this was only one of many examples of failed leadership at a national and local level in 2020 and that change is needed to ensure Harlem First is a reality.
We are unabashedly in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. We spoke at length about the ways that we can help all communities during our Equality Coalition debate on January 11th. I have listened to individuals in our community who have been affected by recent hate crimes and all agree that a combination of changing hearts and minds with effective policy (such as placing NYPD in areas where hate crimes are on the rise) is the strongest way to move forward. With these sorts of partnerships, we will create new possibilities for ALL members of Harlem's vibrant community.
Where New York is Headed
We are working with various community health organizations to address areas of concern, including maternity health, breastfeeding initiatives, and substance abuse treatment and prevention. Our Community Health Advisor has reached out to over 30 organizations, and we believe it is this type of broad, open communication that is the first step in achieving true community health.
We are in full support of New York State policies regarding:
-Having one of the toughest gun laws in the country
-Supporting a woman's right to choose
-Supporting Governor Cuomo's NY's first ever Clean Energy Standard
-NYC as a sanctuary city
-Right to know / Consent to search policies and procedures
Community Meetings Addressing Issues