Quanda Francis did not have it easy growing up in Brooklyn. The family lived at a housing project, and moved to Queens due to gun violence. Francis herself became a mom at age 17. Yet, she persevered and overcame the obstacles, did not give up on her future, and as of last Friday, the Brooklyn Heights resident is officially running for Mayor in the 2021 elections to lift up others.
We spoke to Francis, 40, over the phone about why she’s running and what she hopes to accomplish, running as an Independent.
“ I love this city and I’m unhappy with the way things are going. I’m unhappy with the 8.5% voter turnout. I’m unhappy with, you know, the current administration and this policy. But, you know, some of the policies on the ground have been around long before the de Blasio administration. I feel like it’s time for new leadership. Because things are going to continue to get worse if we tackle the problems that we have with the same solutions that we know just don’t work,” she told us.
“I’ve had to overcome tremendous adversity,” Francis told us, recounting her school years, how leaving home at 17 and being a displaced individual allows her to “understand homelessness on a deeper, much profound level. Now I’m married. I have three children. I work for the New York City Police Department. I own a company.” Now she wants her neighbors, especially those in marginalized communities, to know that they cannot remain complacent and not vote. “Representation matters, not only should you be actively voting, you should now start thinking about being a part of the process as well.” Francis is leading by example.
While she has first-hand experience dealing with the challenges many of our city’s residents have gone through, her policies are not yet firmly articulated. There are none to be found on her site as of this writing, so we prodded a little.
Her background in accounting helps her understand the budget better than anyone in the race currently, Francis told us. “The city is wasteful. I’m looking at the numbers and looking at solutions in a way that is different from what you’ve seen from the politicians. What are we doing with all this data? I’m not a politician, you see. I’m from the people, of the people and I’m running for the people, ” she said. “We can’t have a situation where you always have a good old boys club. You need to hire smart people and hire smart people to do the right thing.”
“We have to look at ways to reduce the spending of all of these agencies. There are a lot of contracts, frankly, that we don’t need, and those funds need to be allocated so they can be we can use them in an intentional way, ” like for example, education, Francis said. “Every student deserves the right to a free, good quality education.”
She blamed the rise in violence on a lack of opportunities for young people. “And so they are turning to a life of crime. And we have eight zip codes for the last 40 years that are responsible for over 60% of the prison population in New York State. If you look at the schools in those areas, they’re correlated.”
Other issues Francis is concerned about are affordable housing and small business owners not getting the support that they need. “I’m looking at the details, the details to me matter,” she said. “Because, again, you’re only as good as your information. We are this global city and we are operating as if we’re still in the 1950s. The infrastructure in New York City is falling apart. We need a change in direction.”
Francis is frustrated that the current administration cannot even get the communication about school reopenings right.
“They can’t even get something as small as communicating with principals about school opening correctly? Principals find out about school openings or Twitter. There is a fundamental break down where we should be as a city and where we are.”
What kind of mayor would she be?
“I would be a very tense, formidable leader,” Francis said. “I would be one that is data-driven, extremely technologically advanced, I’d build partnerships in a way that Michael Bloomberg did. I think that we were going it in the right direction under the Bloomberg administration.”
“The next mayor is going to have to understand the unique challenges of every New Yorker, not just the ones that vote. Because the kids that are hungry in Brownsville, they’re going to get on the train and come up to the Upper East Side. They’re not going to stay in that community. So in order to understand these unique dynamics, you have to understand that it is irresponsible to continuously leave a group of people behind. So if you don’t have the policies in place that address all of your residents, then then we’re going to continue in the direction that we’re currently headed.”
How would Francis determine her effectiveness as a mayor?
“I’d let the data lead the way. I’d look at what measures I can actually implement. I’s look at the agencies and the systems that they use, bring them into the 21st century. Your decision is only as good as your information. Right? So if you’re not asking the right questions, you’re not getting the answers that you need.
“We know that that’s clearly the case because, you know, the same neighborhoods have been struggling with with with with literacy rates for the last 40 years. So we know they’re not asking the right questions. Why are we not asking those questions? There are so many different dynamics that can affect student performance and we need them to be identified.”
Why is Francis running, in a sentence?
“I have to give a voice to the hurt. That’s why I’m running.”
You can follow Quanda Francis’ run on her site, where they will be posting more information on her policies and plans.