The Thought Leaders Issue: Carlina Rivera

New York City Councilwoman for the Second District discusses the opportunity to implement an inclusive policy, voter suppression, and why your vote is your voice.

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“This election is probably one of the most important in history. It represents changing, not just the face of the White House, but how we will implement policy that is truly inclusive. We [have to] work around anti-racism and anti-poverty and build an inclusive agenda for immigrants and trans people, and everyone else who has ever felt marginalized. Right now, the rhetoric that comes from Washington is not lifting up those people.

“People in my district ask me all the time, ‘Why does my vote matter?’ And I try to really speak to my audience, whether it’s about getting that upgrade in your child’s school or making sure that there is healthy food available in a local market. All of that’s on the ballot in who you choose and how they fight for you. We’ve fought too hard to get people to that ballot box; we just had the centennial for women’s suffrage—100 years of women voting. And that was white women. To get Black and Indigenous people of color to the ballot, it’s taken more time and a little more work. And so right now we have to focus on voter suppression, which happens to a lot of people. I tell people all the time: Your vote is your voice. It counts every time. And it only takes a couple of minutes anyway.

“When you look at my community—the East Village, Lower East Side—it’s really ground zero for New York City gentrification. And it’s really changed, but you want to find a balance. People come into the East Village because it’s still edgy, and it’s so pretty. It’s still a community of artists and young people. And then you have these older activists who have been there for a long time that were marching against the Vietnam War. You have this beautiful tapestry of stories that you can kind of see, or overhear at an outdoor cafe.

“What I handle is everything from people who are living below the poverty line to someone who just wants to get a good night’s sleep. To unwind I love to listen to music. You know, I’ll put on Bad Bunny or Cardi B, or something a little bit more chill. I love doing my sheet mask and hanging out with a good fashion magazine. And I cuddle with my pug. His name is Yoshi.”


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