Is This Millennial Mayoral Candidate
The Next Hope For The Future Of New York City?
Josh Thompson is running to serve as the next Mayor of New York City. He's a clean cut 31 year old millennial who has spent his young life as an educator, advocate, and public servant. Growing up, Josh’s mother worked three jobs but by the time Josh was 15, he ended up without a home living on the streets of Newark, New Jersey.
Since that low point, Josh has picked himself up and has worked with Newark’s then-Mayor Cory booker, served in Washington, DC, and in 2012 (at the age of 27) Josh was appointed as Director of Education in Bridgeport, CT where he cut the dropout rate in half and eliminated a $13 million education deficit - without letting go of a single teacher or closing a single school.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a meet and greet with Josh, in the beautiful East Village brownstone owned by Kate Spade co-founder, Pamela Bell. Here, in the heart of the vaunted East Village, I was offered the opportunity to ask Josh some questions about his campaign and his take on the issues of the day.
Give us a thumbnail of your life as a teen who at times struggled to have a constant home and what do you think some of the answers are to youth homelessness.
As a youth, there were times I struggled to have a permanent home. What saved me, and what I think is so critical to resolving homelessness among the youth population, is the assurance of having long-term housing and that our youth are immersed in a community of support and a true belief that their future is limitless.
Our homelessness rate is at an all time high since the Great Depression. That will not be the case under our administration. Reform is a tired concept. We have the resources here in New York to solve this crisis. We just need to utilize these resources in new and creative ways, not tinker around the edges as we so often do.
Your campaign tagline is Education, Innovation, and Community. Tell us what those three things mean to you
Education, Innovation, and Community are our future. Without education, we cannot create innovators. Without innovation, we cannot grow our communities. Without community, we have nothing, Throughout New York City’s history, the world has looked to us as a hub of success and progress in all three of these pillars. I’m fearful that recently we’ve allowed our city to fall behind and that our city’s reputation as a leader of creativity and progress is slowly slipping away. I want New York City to once again set the trend for the rest of the world, and that is only possible through education, innovation, and community being at the center of an administration.
Tell us the shocking numbers of low voter turnout, why you think this is, and what you will do to help invigorate people's interest in voting.
We are a city of approximately 8.4 million people. In 2013, our current mayor was elected in a Democratic Primary with only 260,000 votes out of 3.1 million eligible democratic voters. This was our city’s lowest voter turnout in 100 years.
The good news is that this is not a trend, and it is not typical. New Yorkers show up. So we’re on a mission to ensure that we stand for issues that are deserving for New Yorkers to show up. We’re not viewing voter turnout through the perspective of a typical political consultant or “Get Out The Vote” operation. We’re viewing this in its truest sense as a city of 8.4 million plus New Yorkers that deserve to be engaged, inspired, and active. And we intend to do all that we can to support and find solutions to the issues most important to New Yorkers in order to keep them engaged, inspired, and active.
What is your stance on legalization of cannabis, both for medicinal and recreational usage?
Let’s make it happen and set a standard for what it means to legalize marijuana in other parts of the nation. Fiscally, I believe in creating clear plans about what we as an administration would do with the monetary resources gained from the legalization of cannabis. Specifically, these funds should be used, first and foremost, to support our city’s education system, to build new bridges and transportation models, and to alleviate taxes on small businesses.
Aside from a fiscal lens, I believe that it is crucial to view this issue through a moral lens. For too long our criminal justice system has imprisoned and criminalized people who are non-criminals. Particularly, people of color have been targeted and unjustly criminalized the most by this system. The legalization of marijuana would be a step in the right direction, assuring that this social injustice will eventually cease.
Answer the possible critique about your age and why you believe it is a strength as opposed to a weakness.
I always laugh a bit when someone tries to tell me that I’m too young to be our mayor. I often answer back jokingly that, in my opinion, they may be too old to be our mayor. I say that because I believe in the importance of challenging perceptions.
We need leadership that’s immersed in the future. One thing about technology is that it never moves backward. And we are not an administration that will move backward. We do not have the typical political and government background that has recently given the people of New York typical results. We are committed to being a forward-thinking and technologically driven administration.
Learn more about Josh Thompson here: http://www.JoshForNewYork.com
Robert Galinsky is a writer, activist and town crier. More on him here http://www.galinskyplace.com