Greenpoint Gazette
Michael Brienza

Meet Your District Leader Candidates: Michael Brienza

BY Tanay Warerkar

1. What about your background qualifies you to serve as District Leader?

I am a lifelong resident of this district and I have seen this neighborhood change drastically. Because of the many changes, I took an interest in joining Brooklyn Community Board 1 as a board member. In this capacity, I have learned the issues of the residents throughout our district. For example, senior citizens being forced out to move because of rents going through the roof, younger folks being forced to live in other areas because they can’t purchase a home because of the balloon prices. Health concerns have never been fully addressed and we are sitting on a sea of oil. Our waterfront needs to be addressed with responsible development and our community needs affordable housing.

2. What work were/are you doing apart from the campaign? What are your career aspirations?

I work for a labor union and I advocate for fair wages and benefits for union members across the country. I have a strong belief that unions play a major role in the building of the middle class. My career aspiration at the moment is to strengthen and build the Democratic Party in our district and to take that message to younger people. Beyond this I have a strong desire to serve the public.

3. Why did you decide to run this year? Can you share an anecdote or a story that first made you realize you wanted to represent or give back to this community?

I felt this year there was an opportunity to run because the seat was open and I always had an interest in being an advocate for our community. So I talked to family and friends and felt this would be the best time to involve myself further. My inspiration comes from my studies in the Master’s Degree program of Urban Affairs at Queens’s College.

4. What is your campaign’s platform?

My campaign’s platform is to make sure that residents have a voice in the district. I truly believe that as a District Leader you need to be visible within the community at all levels. It’s important to understand the issues that ultimately affect the residents of the district, this way we can apprise the elected officials of their concerns.

5. What are the three most important issues facing this community and how do you plan to address them?

I feel our district is faced with many issues such as: affordable housing, transportation services, developing and maintaining our parks/green space, the development of our waterfront, health concerns from rodent problems. These are all important issues and addressing these problems as a State Committeeman also known as District Leader means going to the elected officials and making sure there aware of these issues and getting them to work together to find solutions to fix these issues. It is important for the district to understand that a State Committeeman/District Leader is a party position; it’s unpaid and has no standing in any legislative body in New York. Any candidate running for District Leader who says they are responsible for fixing these types of issues and problems doesn’t know what the position is and is profoundly mistaken. As a District Leader our position is to make sure we simply keep our elected official’s apprised of the district’s and Democratic Party wishes. As District Leaders we elect a Democratic County Leader and participate in helping to nominate and elect qualified judges.

6. District Leader is a party position. What, if any changes would you like to see in the operation of the Kings County Democratic Party? How do you hope to get the younger demographic moving into the neighborhood more involved in local politics?

I believe the Kings County Democratic Party has made great strides in transparency over the last few years. Although, I would like to see local Democratic clubs host the meetings on a rotating basis so that all the District leaders get to see the beauty and problems associated within each district. Furthermore, I strongly believe that every district is in need of having voter registration drives. It would be great to have these drives at block parties throughout the districts. As well as high schools having their seniors register. I would also encourage the youth to join the community board to get involved within the community so that they advocate for issues facing there community. It’s also important to note that I strongly believe that every Government office should have voter registration capabilities.

7. What is your take on the housing boom in North Brooklyn and how do you reconcile a growing number of residents with a lack of infrastructure improvements?

The infrastructure can’t keep up with the housing boom. Parking is horrendous for the residents of our district. For new buildings with more than 10 or 12 apartments they should be required to provide parking facilities. Another problem is the 15 foot clearance on fire hydrants, we should advocate for it to be reduced to 8 or 10 feet, this would provide 1.5 to 2 more parking spaces per each fire hydrant. We also need to see an increase in ferry and bus services in our district; this is a major issue throughout the district. It seems that studies on these issues are constantly done in Manhattan but are not done here enough.

8. What recommendations would you advocate for to improve local schools?

Being a resident of Greenpoint my whole life and attending both P.S. 110 and St Cecilia’s school I believe that an increase in funding is crucial to our schools. It’s vital that we provide a safe environment for our students and give them the proper resources to learn.

9. How would you respond to those that say there are too many bars in North Brooklyn?

If they can afford the rent to stay in business, then this is the true meaning of a capitalistic society.

10. What will you do to help bridge the divide between old and new residents?

I believe that the divide will diminish overtime. We all need to focus on developing our community together while keeping its foundation and roots.

11. If elected, what realistic goals do you hope to achieve in your time in office?

If elected I would like to increase voter enrollment in our district, specifically within the younger community. I would also like to make voter enrollment a year round event. In closing, my realistic goal is to be strong advocate for the issues that arise in our district and to have our elected officials made aware of the districts wishes and needs.

12. What’s your favorite place to hang out in these neighborhoods? And why?

I work full time as a union activist and dedicate my time to the community board. I am very active in the community and I hope to be a leader in the Democratic Party. I don’t have much time to “hang out”, but I do enjoy the great restaurant’s in our area. I also do enjoy the many parks in our area such as McGolrick and McCarren Parks, growing up as a kid in Greenpoint, the McCarren baseball field was my favorite.


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