Business, Community, Family and Political Leader
Three decades of experience and commitment
making government work for you!
My devotion to the communities I have served over the past 35 years is a testament to the work I will begin on day one in the City Council. These 35 years have combined with my recent electoral victories as a Democratic National Committee Delegate (where I garnered 40,259 votes, the most any candidate earned in New York State), and as a Democratic Judicial Delegate to give me the distinct advantage of widespread name recognition throughout the district. I have a strong feeling that we will be victorious on Primary Day!
I stand before you with a clear and unique message of progress, prosperity, inclusiveness, sustainability and unity for our district. I am the mature woman who can make government work the right way for the people, and I am the immigrant fulfilling the American Dream by running to represent you.
My breadth of business, community, family and political experience has always been successful in bringing proven solutions to the issues we all face:
In the early 1980’s, I joined Mayor Koch, and worked on the creation of the Minority/Women owned business model (MWBE), a model program that has brought many opportunities for woman and minority owned small business owners, and which allowed me to get my start in the business world. As a result, I learned firsthand how to navigate the intricacies of government and make sure it worked for all of us.
During the 1990’s, I joined Mayor Dinkins, along with my mentor Lenore Janis, and worked at the inception of the Mayor’s Office of Construction. As your City Council Member, I will work to revive this model, if only to address the unacceptable number of fatalities that occur on construction sites throughout the city, many of which occur within my district. Too many families have had the heads of their households taken from them in these tragic events, and the public at large has repeatedly been put at risk as a result of developers prioritizing greed over safety.
I was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court as a Hearing Officer for the Small Claims Assessment Review Program, presiding on cases brought by small property owners seeking assessment reductions, as per RPTL 730. My expertise in the industry earned me the privilege of rendering decisions on cases that entailed assessments for repairs conducted by the city, coming to resolve some cases shelved for years before these were assigned to me. When elected, I will bring these experiences to enacting an assessment of fines for property owners warehousing their storefronts, denying small business owners and opportunity to serve our community and threatening our quality of life.
Partnering with local professionals and Citibank, and my initiative to serve the immigrant community throughout New York City, assisting them to obtain banking services, assisted millions; this model served was later copied by other banking institutions, restoring their dignity and aiding our economy with the increase in local deposits. As an immigrant myself, brought to New York City in 1970 by my single mother who came to America to fulfill her American Dream. The one thing to take away from my story is that most, if not all, New Yorkers are immigrants originating from other countries or other states, and easing that transition will be one of my top priorities as preserving the “Sanctuary” status of this amazing city built by immigrants.
During Mayor Bloomberg’s second term, I worked to assure the reinstatement of the MWBE Program. It was my initiative that solved the mystery of the lack of “certified” firms to whom the large contracts could be awarded to. I rolled up my sleeves, partnered with several governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, as well as the carpenters union, and enacted a program that enrolled over 1500 small businesses in the rosters of a summer “certification” session, free of charge. This model was later adopted by many other organizations throughout the city. In appreciation of my service, I was proud to be honored with the “Challenge Award” by the NYC Small Business Services Agency. As a business owner of more than 3 decades, I know how difficult it is to keep up with regulations, rents, taxes, and virtual miles of red tape. This is why the facilitating success of small businesses will be among my top priorities once elected.
In 2005, the MWBE Community was unable to cash in on the benefits intended for them by the Bloomberg administration. This was mostly due to a lack of capital and expertise in completing large projects, particularly those in the building and construction industries. In response, I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and pitched the “market expansion” opportunities to the business community there. As a result of this effort, I netted the largest MWBE Architectural and Engineering firm in New York City, spearheading their “market expansion” plan with a “Mentor-Protégé Joint-Venture.” This firm in their fifth year was awarded the “Sandy Resiliency & Renewal” long term repair program in the amount of $3,700,000.00. This is the type of leadership I can bring to enhance the economic development engine of this city. Soon thereafter, others follow suit and today these relationships were pivotal in the success of the MWBE program throughout New York State. This model proved to be successful and I was invited by the various governments in Central and Latin America to present these opportunities.
Again in 2009, on behalf of New York City's school children and the workers of the Laborers International Union of North America and the Mason Tenders District Council, I wrestled with the Bloomberg administration to assure that our schools would be free of the toxics carried in the fluorescent lamps installed in the classrooms and had these removed during one summer season, rather than over 5 years as originally proposed by the administration. Toxics do not belong in the school place, as a mother and grandmother, our children are our future and they will always be my one of my top priorities.
In 2011, as part of my work for the Laborers International Union of North America Latino Caucus; I partnered with CUNY Citizenship Now program and brought this model across the country from New York, Washington DC to Nevada and California, demystifying the "US Citizenship" process for many workers, their families and members of their communities at large, all free of charge.
In 2014, I brought the de Blasio administration to modify the New York City Building Code by signing on Local Law 12, which would mandate all corroded, decrepit and/or missing insulation in the heat and cooling systems be replaced with new, upon opening of walls during all construction renovations throughout the city, this law was designed to cut the green house gas emissions and to create jobs. I am a firm believer of the effects of climate change and thus the environment and clean air has and will always be one of my top priorities.
Last year, while spearheading my very first election in Congressional District 12; my work ethics and campaign style significantly increased the number of votes received in the district, when historically the highest voting district in Manhattan is Congressional District 10 on the west side of the island. And, while campaigning for my second election as Judicial Delegate for the New York State Judicial Convention, I was able to assist tenants and co-op owners with issues from landlord harassment, rent overcharges, and staved-off 5 wrongful evictions by way of referring them to the proper channels and get them the legal assistance they needed at the cost they could afford, mostly free of charge.
Earlier this year, prior to answering the Lord’s calling and succumbing to brain cancer, my nephew, a municipal worker for 19 years, was unable to avail himself or his family of the benefits and fruits of his labor with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, as the agency that provides assistance with the benefits our civil servants work so hard for, did not conduct a timely review of his case, short-changing his wife and young daughters now left to financially fend for themselves at very early ages. Municipal workers and their families deserve to be granted the benefits they work for and while in City Council I will see that those that serve us, are served right back and with dignity.
These are some of the experiences and solutions I have brought to the issues that are important to us, the everyday New Yorkers, which together with my work expertise, the fulfillment earned when I have been able to make a difference in many people’s lives while connecting them to a better business, education, job, home, personal or residence opportunity; is what makes me the “government” outsider with the most experience in making government work for us, the people, and this is what I will bring with me to the City Council on day one!
THEREFORE, ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2017; PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE FOR MARIA CASTRO FOR CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4