On the evening of April 12, local East Village cocktail bar The Wayland hosted an event to promote David Eisenbach, a Columbia University history professor and television personality who is running against incumbent Letitia James and community activist Tony Herbert for the office of NYC Public Advocate. Eisenbach is a progressive candidate currently endorsed by the Liberal Party of New York and will be running on their ticket in the general election.
Mr. Eisenbach, a charismatic speaker, addressed an attentive audience consisting of his former students and local activists covering several issues germane to New Yorkers in the 2017 election cycle. Among these he stressed the importance of addressing the affordability crisis currently plaguing New York City, putting a strong emphasis on small business and residential displacement. Mr. Eisenbach is a proponent of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which guarantees commercial lease protections, as one possible solution to the crisis and spoke of the immediate need to remedy the alarming rate of small business evictions now occurring in New York, saying: “If you’re a small business, what good is a tax cut if you lose your lease?”
Eisenbach also called out Mayor de Blasio for his record on affordable housing, claiming that his policies are not only not working, but are actually exacerbating the city’s homelessness crisis, causing rising property taxes and resulting rent hikes which he says are making current housing stock unaffordable and driving out long-time residents of the communities affected.
He also cited the poor state of NYCHA – New York City Housing Authority – properties, many of which are not ADA-compliant and are unsafe to live in. He was personally invited by residents to tour their houses and observed the growth of asthma-causing mold and caved-in ceilings, which endanger residents’ health and are not being fixed or prioritized by the current administration.
His promise to listen directly to people within communities was well received by the crowd. Eisenbach compared his love of teaching to public service, stating that he was in the race to help the city he loves and its people – not to start a political career. Because of this, Eisenbach says, if elected, he will not be bullied by establishment politicians and will perform the duties of the office properly and strive to be an unbiased and vocal advocate for the people of New York City.
The Public Advocate candidate then took questions from the audience sparking discussions with a local freelancer on challenges facing small business owners, an educator and former Parent Coordinator on the Norwegian educational system and a musician concerned with advancing the Arts in New York City, parrying them all deftly and winning the crowd over by evening’s end.
When considering the formidable support already lined up by incumbent Public Advocate Letitia James in her reelection effort, one might feel compelled to label Mr. Eisenbach a “long-shot” candidate but it would be a mistake to dismiss him. Long-shot or not, it was clear to all in attendance at the Wayland that night that New Yorkers now have an effective new political voice in the 2017 citywide conversation.