Yetta Kurland today on the steps of City Hall announced she is running for New York City Council’s Third District, which includes Manhattan’s Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Hell’s Kitchen, and parts of SoHo and Murray Hill areas. Kurland, a noted civil rights attorney, community organizer, small business owner, and LGBT activist for more than two decades, is also the host of the progressive news radio program, “Yetta Kurland LIVE!”
“I know first hand the importance of having a government that represents all of us, including those of us who do not have a voice,” Kurland told reporters on the steps of City Hall today.
“I grew up a poor kid in upstate New York,” Kurland, surrounded by supporters, said. “I was able to afford college and law school only because of the educational opportunity programs that existed back then.”
“As a woman I came of age defending abortion clinics and women who were under assault from anti-choice efforts. I came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in an era when I could not hold my partner’s hand without fear of physical assault,” she explained.
“When the AIDS epidemic made clear our community’s powerlessness and invisibility, and when the idea of being able to marry the person I loved was laughed at.”
Kurland ran for the City Council seat previously, in 2009.
Here is the full text of Kurland’s speech, as prepared for delivery:
Good afternoon. I’m honored to stand here today on the steps of City Hall with fellow members of the West Village, Chelsea and Hells Kitchen. My name is Yetta Kurland. I have been an educator, community organizer and civil rights attorney for over to two decades on the Lower West Side of Manhattan.
I know first hand the importance of having a government that represents all of us, including those of us who do not have a voice.
I grew up a poor kid in upstate New York. I was able to afford college and law school only because of the educational opportunity programs that existed back then.
As a woman I came of age defending abortion clinics and women who were under assault from anti-choice efforts.
I came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in an era when I could not hold my partners hand without fear of physical assault.
When the AIDS epidemic made clear our community’s powerlessness and invisibility,
And when the idea of being able to marry the person I loved was laughed at.
But my true passion for advocacy has come in fighting for others.
I helped found the first ever Earth Day in my college. I started a language center in New York City which created jobs and offered resources to the immigrant community, I have been an outspoken advocate for the humane treatment of animals, I have worked as a civil rights attorney to advocate for better wages, to protect tenants, to defend the right of my fellow New Yorkers to freely assemble, and to stop discrimination in the work place.
I live in New York City because I believe it is the greatest City in the world.
But over the past twenty years, I have watched this City lose too much of its soul. We are headed towards becoming a place where only the richest can afford to live, and where our public resources are being converted into private profit.
I have watched too many of my friends forced to move because they can’t find a job, too many small businesses forced to close because they can’t afford the rent, thereby losing more jobs, and too many of my neighbors denied access to proper health care, educational opportunities, and other basic necessities.
The closure of our community’s only level 1 hospital combined with the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy has made clear, we are at a critical point in our City’s sustainability. It is imperative that we have community representatives in City government to advocate for the public so that we can begin to recover what we have lost over the past decades and prepare for what awaits us in the future.
I am stepping forward today to announce my intention to run to represent the 3rd City Council District so that we can continue this work together.
As the lead attorney for the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, I have shown I can organize 8,000 community members to stand up to the most powerful real estate interests in this City. While we have not finished the fight, we have forced those in power to admit that by law, there must be a hospital at the site of St. Vincent’s. As your next City Councilmember I will not stop until we have a full service hospital for our community.
As a leader in the fight for Marriage Equality I was part of the coalition that won the right for New Yorkers to realize that which before we thought impossible, marriage equality. As your City Councilmember I will continue to fight everyday for LGBTQ New Yorkers and all of us who need a voice, because we are all in this together and because together we are greater than the sum of our parts.
As a community organizer I signed the letter authored by the Working Families Party to support paid sick leave and as your next City Councilmember I will fight to pass that legislation.
As an attorney I have stopped numerous evictions of small businesses as well as rent controlled and rent stabilized tenants. I have worked with organizations like the Housing Conservation Coordinators to protect single resident occupants in low income housing from predatory landlords. As the next City Councilmember of the 3rd District I will work to preserve and recapture affordable housing stock in our community.
In a post Sandy New York, we need experienced leaders who are committed to public interest. We can change the way politics happen in New York City.
We have proven that when we come together as a community, we can win.
So, to win this election, I need you. My job, as a public servant, will be to amplify your voice. In the months ahead I will be reaching out to you. Please let me know your thoughts.
Together we can bring our vision and values forward to address the issues we face as New Yorkers.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this report stated Kurland was challenging Christine Quinn. Quinn is not running as she is term limited.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.