Layla's Announcement Speech
Midtown Manhattan, December 16, 2021
I am thrilled to be here today to announce that I am running for Assembly District 75.
As you know, our great Assembly member Dick Gottfried announced on Monday that he would not seek reelection, after 52 years of service.
Assembly member Gottfried was a formidable legislator and tireless advocate for healthcare. He is an icon of New York politics and it is an honor to seek to succeed him.
I want to thank my friends and colleagues for joining me today, and for supporting my effort. It means so much to me.
Thank you, Vikki Barbero, my mentor, my friend for your guidance over the 16 years that I’ve served on Community Board Five alongside you. I would not be where I am today, if it were not for you, Vikki.
I want to thank colleagues and neighbors who are by my side. Your support, so early on, means so much to me.
I also thank my husband and two wonderful children who are busy with work and college today and couldn’t join but are here in spirit.
As most of you know, I’ve served on CB5 for 16 years. It’s been thrilling to represent and serve our community in the course of this decade and a half. We’ve seen it all. We’ve worked on issues ranging from housing to education to historic preservation to land use and zoning. Fighting hospital closings, advocating for the siting of a new elementary school, calling for class size reduction, sounding the alarm on overdevelopment along Central Park. And of course, the ongoing fight against the Governor’s land grab in the Penn area.
This building behind me, the majestic Hotel Pennsylvania, once the largest hotel in the world, is slated for demolition. This demolition is a symbol of absurd decisions based on greed. This 1919 building is in need of tender care, not of a wrecking ball.
The entire block over there is slated for demolition too. Hundreds of residents, many of them seniors, many of them vulnerable, would lose their homes. We can’t stand by that.
I have decided to run for assembly as I want to continue to be a fearless voice for our district. We need to make sure our voice is heard. Loud and clear. We need to protect our tenants, bring true affordable housing to the district, serve our homeless population. Defend our streets from speculative real estate development that makes no sense, other than to some fortune-500 company’s bottom line. We need to Protect our quality of life and restore fairness in all things, from education to transit to housing.
I am relentless. I am tireless. And once in Albany, I will bring my work ethics, my critical mind and my tenacity.
I am not doctrinaire. I am not dogmatic. I come from the ranks of community organizing, where we get our feedback from the field, not from esoteric theorists, or special interest.
Together, we can accomplish a lot in the state legislature. We can get a better MTA, more money for our schools, improved hospital coverage, to name a few. And we can bring balance to an executive chamber that in recent past has been out of control.
I’ve been called a trouble-maker. Well, yes, I do challenge the status quo. I do challenge “business as usual”. I do question rationale for decisions that make no sense.
Yesterday, Sam Turvey, the executive Director of the great civic organization ReThink New York, reminded us of Congressman John Lewis commitment to “good trouble”
So, to channel John Lewis, with hope in my heart, and with fire in my belly, I am making a commitment that once in office I will make “good trouble” for Assembly District 75, for the great city and the great state of New York.