Brooklyn Native Dianne Morales Launches Campaign For Mayor

Dianne Morales. (Photo via Morales’s campaign)

Dianne Morales, an Afro-Latina woman and a Brooklyn native, officially launched her campaign for the NYC Mayor in the 2021 election last night. This is her first time running for any political office.

“When I think back to the moments in my lifetime that may have led me here, I think of this city’s systems that failed my family,” she said in her pre-launch video. “The Stuyvesant High School guidance counselor who told me I wasn’t ivy league material. The board chair who told me I was flying too close to the sun. Or the one who told me that I might want to consider changing my tone. I think of the times when my race, my gender, my work, or my attitude may have been used against me. I can only imagine how many others were subjected to the same message.”

“We’ve had 109 mayors in New York. One was Black. None were women. None were Latino. None were indigenous. None were Asian. I know I am not a traditional candidate,” she continued. “I’m not a traditional candidate because I have not spent a lifetime jocking for the job. My working-class Puerto Rican family couldn’t bankroll me, immerse me in the machine, or indoctrinate me to politics. I haven’t spent time publishing policy papers to examine our problems; I built programs and services to address the problems and improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

“New York’s greatest asset is its people. Its strength can be found in the courage and the resistance that is demonstrated daily in the lives of those whose voices have been too often ignored or drowned out. Our essential workers and our immigrants, our Black and Brown heads of household, our seniors, and our single moms. For too long, our city’s leadership has not heard you, represented you, or allowed you to fulfill your promise. Despite all the effort to keep us down, still, New Yorkers rise,” she said. “When our community is tested by disease, by violence, by climate disruption, we come together. We help each other. We overcome. It is time that we tapped the brilliance, the experience, and the perspectives inherent in our diversity for the leadership of New York. Not just so that City Hall looks like New York, but so that City Hall could reflect New York.”

“This is our moment to choose the future. We can build a politics for all people. A city where no person goes without the necessities and dignity of life. A New York where every student in every class has the best education we can provide,” she said. “A place where no person is unhoused. And a city where public safety means taking care of each other, and a phone call to 911 means help, not harm. We have a moment when so much is possible—right now. But it’s going to take all of us.”

Morales is an organizer, educator, and a single mom of two kids. She was born in Bed Stuy to Puerto Rican parents and lives in that very neighborhood today. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University and graduate degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Columbia University. Morales is a founding board member of Jumpstart, a national early education organization. And from 2010 until last year, she served as the CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, a non-profit that helps children, youth, and families in low-income communities in the South Bronx rise above poverty.

“This is our moment to choose the future. We can build politics for all people. A city in which no one goes without the necessities and dignity of life,” she said in her announcement. “As Langston Hughes said, ‘I swear to the Lord, I still can’t see, why Democracy means, everybody but me. Our democracy should serve all of us. We cannot build a new city if we follow the old rules.”

“We cannot unsee what the last eight months have exposed. We can’t go back to what was before, because we all know it wasn’t enough,” she continued. “This our collective fight, and we must take collective action. As a first-generation, Bed-Stuy Boricua, former CEO, I’ve dedicated my life to closing gaps for New Yorkers. I’ve seen what government can do to lift people up, as it did for my parents when they were invited to live in the new housing development in the 1950s, Sumner Houses.”

Her top four priority issues include desegregating schools, divesting from police and investing in communities, building a solidarity economy, and housing for all. She now joins other Brooklynites including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Kathryn Garcia, Quanda Francis, and Shaun Donavan. Other candidates include Loree Sutton, Zach Iscol, Ray McGuire, Shaun Donovan, and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“We need a Green New Deal for NYCHA. We have more billionaires than we did eight months ago. We need to transition to a pre-distribution of wealth. Invest and allocate our resources by investing in community members and communities — to ensure the expansion of participatory budgeting and community-owned businesses. Those closest to the challenges should be closest to the solutions,” she said. “We must fundamentally transform what we teach and how we teach it so that ALL students have access to a strong education. Education has the potential to be the great equalizer. A budget is a reflection of our values and our priorities.”

“If we value our children, we’d fund our schools. We need a K to 16 system that includes CUNY. I think of the times my race, my gender, my attitude, or some other aspect of my background have been used against me,” she continued. “I’ll never forget the sense of helplessness that I felt — a sense that no New Yorker — should ever have to feel. I will set New York on a path toward a higher form of justice.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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