[Learn more about Brandon’s campaign here.]
Red Net (RN): Please tell our readers briefly who you are and why you’re running.
Brandon West (BW): I am a community organizer for racial, social, and economic justice. I have also been in and out of government, and was one of the organizers of Occupy City Hall and fought to defund the police. I’m running to radically empower working people and frame all decisions about how we can bring those most impacted to the table. I’ve fought the machine in Brooklyn for years and believe this crisis in the city has underlined that incrementalism doesn’t work and we need to bring about socialism and real community power if we want to build a city that is just.
RN: What does democratic socialism mean to you? What would that look like at a city level/in New York City?
BW: I believe it’s bringing democracy to our economy so we can house and care for all people. So that means decommodifying housing and building social housing, not developer-led “affordable housing” projects that don’t house the people who need it. I believe in a radical people’s budget where we defund the police by at least 3 billion and fund community services that people desperately need. Police don’t keep us safe, but supporting communities does. I believe in reversing school segregation and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. And we especially need to push back on the austerity policies that have afflicted the poor and working class before and during the COVID crisis. It’s time to take back what belongs to the working class.
RN: What are one or two big issues facing New York City that you’re passionate about? How would you like to see the Council tackle these issues?
BW: I’m trying to champion defunding, and eventually abolishing, the police and pushing for charter revision to completely revamp land use. I think there is room in the budget to do both if we get the needed state revenue, and the council has the power to do it. I also believe we can win on a citywide ballot changes to ULURP and enact a comprehensive plan that follows the model of other international cities, building social housing and making it universal.
RN: What are the biggest organizational challenges that the NYC-DSA and insurgent campaigns like these need to overcome in order to succeed?
BW: I think we really have a fight on our hands in central brooklyn against the Black political establishment. I’ve been frustrated and fighting them for years but they feel threatened and are going to throw bad faith attacks at us as much as possible. I think we need to lift up BIPOC voices in DSA and continue to focus on coalition building to create a strong alternative to their grip, as well as win electorally.
RN: What are you most looking forward to in the campaign process?
BW: Talking to people in the district is the best part of running and I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer so we can connect more outside and build more community around the ideas we are trying to center.