Somewhere on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, David Sasscer-Burgos is having meet-and-greets with neighbors to drum up support during a tough Democratic primary season. The long-term resident was raised in Puerto Rico, but is currently looking to represent District 7 in the upcoming New York City Council race. David believes he is pretty in tune with the neighborhood and the changes that Upper Manahattan has seen throughout the years. So we decided to have a sit-down with the 1st time candidate:
Me: As a mechanical engineer what peeked your interested in politics?
David: I come from a very politically active family and I have always been interested in politics. As an engineer who is LEED Accredited by the US Green Builder’s Council of America, a lot of my focus is on energy efficiency and sustainability. And I have always noted how so many of the issues we face – including affordable housing, environmental protection and job creation – are directly related to and affected by technology.
Engineers are trained to identify problems, study options and implement solutions. That approach, along with my MBA and years of experience managing projects and people have made me uniquely qualified to balance the technical demands of problem solving in our community with a deep understanding of what our community needs. I’ll get the job done effectively and efficiently while never forgetting the people who elected me.
Me: Why do you want to represent District 7? Entering New York City politics seems to be a very challenging endeavor.
David: My mother was born and raised in District 7. Her parents owned a bodega here for years and my grandfather was the minister of the Spanish-speaking congregation at the West End Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue. I’ve lived here since coming to Columbia to study for my MBA in 1996. District 7 is home. And…no other candidate has this level of connection to the district and its people.
Me: Politicians these days are so unrelatable, why do you think voters should relate to you?
David: I have a real full-time job. I wake up every day and go to work, just like them. Between my professional preparation and experience and my personal not-for-profit track record, I have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and helped create hundreds of jobs for New Yorkers who are blind and visually impaired. They (voters) will understand that I am the most concerned, competent and qualified candidate for this position.
Me: Who are you endorsing for in the city’s mayoral race? Why?
David: I have not yet decided who to endorse.
Me: Speaking of the upcoming elections, do you feel the issues are being watered down by scandal?
David: I feel that they were at the beginning, but, as the race enters the home stretch, the real issues are finally being addressed in a substantive way.
Me: Do you have any solutions to NYC’s housing issues? Such as the lack of affordable housing for lower and middle class citizens?
David: The issue of affordable housing has truly reached crisis level in our district, from end to end. The city council is uniquely positioned to address this problem and uniquely obligated to do so given it’s connection to the community. The big picture is that we need to address supply and demand. In terms of supply, we need to focus the power of the government on encouraging building more affordable housing and properly maintaining the existing affordable housing. In terms of demand, we need to make sure that everyone in the district has the opportunity to have a job, or government support if appropriate, that pays them enough to be able to afford safe, clean, affordable housing.
We need to make sure that the city council begins to insist on including “green” components in both existing and new buildings. Not only will that help address air quality (fuel oil), energy generation (alternative sources such as sun and win) and global warming, but the implementation of this criteria will create jobs, both locally at the construction sites, and city-wide at different “green” companies. We need to protect tenants legal rights in housing courts and make sure they have lawyers available….and enforce existing laws protecting tenants so that they have protection against abusive landlords.
Me: Walk readers through your neighborhood and give some recommendations for your district…i.e. food, architecture, best places to snap an Instagram!
David: The best comfort food is any of the numerous wonderful latin restaurants. El Rey de la Caridad on Amsterdam between 107th and 108th streets and 3517 Tropical on Broadway and 144th are two of my favorites, but there are numerous others worth your effort. Community on Broadway between 112 and 113th streets is my wife’s and my favorite organic restaurant in the city. Period.
The best Instagram spots are either along Broadway – especially at night – or anywhere along the west end of the district in Riverside Park or Riverbank State Park at 145th streets. The sunsets are breathtaking!
We have “hidden” mansions on the river that continue to amaze me every time I walk or run by them, we have glorious brownstones in West Harlem and majestic residences throughout upper Manhattan. To pick any one would be an insult to all the others.
Me: What would surprise New York City voters about you?
David: I am a singer/songwriter with several albums on iTunes. My most recent release is an album in Spanish called “Cuentos de la Porta Del Sol” with songs about different towns in Puerto Rico, including my hometown of Aguadilla, on the West Coast of the Island.
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