Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Manhattan City Council Candidate: Gwen Goodwin

Running for: City Council, 8th Council District, Manhattan

Year Running: September 2009 (Democratic Primary)

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Candidate Bio:

Gwen Goodwin was born on June 8, 1961. She arrived in New York, East Harlem in 1985. She has made her home in East Harlem going on 25 years.

It's no accident that Gwen was right up there with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gail Collins. Gretchen Dykstra, Tina Fey, Caroline Kennedy, Bette Midler, Eva Moskowitz, Rosie O'Donnell, Sara Jessica Parker , Susan Sarandon, Sue Simmons, Nydia Velasquez and Randi Weingarten, to name a few, recognized by the Daily News of April 24, 2004, as the "100 Women who Shape our City"!

Gwen's focus has been to preserve East Harlem as a place where regular people, and particularly, those who face systematic discrimination, can continue to live.

Most recently, Gwen has been fighting the "River-to-River Harlem Rezoning" plan, spearheaded by Mayor Bloomberg This plan could erase Harlem as we know it, driving its current populations out. The plan uses the threat of eminent domain to coerce people into relinquishing community based business and property. Gwen is completely opposed to the abuse of eminent domain. The main impetus to Gwen's City Council race is to reverse the ongoing damage by incumbent Melissa Mark Viverito, who actually promotes this plan.

Gwen is most widely known since 1999, for Founding/Coordinating the Coalition to Save P.S. 109, reversing an already ongoing, illegal demolition by the NYC Board of Education. The Coalition to Save PS 109 went on to landmark PS 109 with the help of the NYC Landmarks Conservancy. Gwen won the first Grassroots Preservation Award by The Historic District Council.

In 1997 when the Rent Stabilization laws were threatened by abolition , Gwen singularly saw to it that the tenants' movement provided free bus travel for the East Harlem residents to Albany. She also arranged free lunches, as well as mobilizing a significant contingent.

Gwen was able to acquire the services, pro bono, of the prestigious law firm, Davis Polk and Wardwell to oppose the reopening of the 100th Street Bus Terminal in 2000. The suit alleged environmental racism. East Harlem suffers from the highest rate of asthma in the USA.

Gwen, initiated the "A Breath of Fresh Air" campaign after 9-11. The program was dedicated to and for the New York City Fireman and Policeman. Gwen asked the resort owners of Cape May, NJ, to give first responders free rest and recuperation weekends in the beautiful bed and breakfasts of Cape May . Thirty-five inns and hotels participated as well a five restaurants. Gwen was honored both by the New York Daily News , “Spotlight on People” as well as Channel 7 News, “New York City’s Hometown Hero“, for her effort.

Adaptable and versatile, communicative and witty, intellectual and elegant, youthful and lively, Gwen has extraordinary intensity to get things done. Gwen is a great listener, exploring all sides of a question before taking a stand without ambiguity, wishy-washiness or sellout compromise. Gwen will harness a Gemini-like wisdom and inquisitiveness to be able to master rapidly the procedures in City Council and develop effective strategies.

It is not often that a candidate is so made-to-order to serve the broad public. But, as Gwen says, inspired by the Barack Obama campaign, "We will be waiting forever, until we realize that 'We are the people we've been waiting for!'"

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