STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Brandon Stradford thinks his time working in government and lifelong experience as a Staten Islander make him the right choice to be the next borough president.
Born in the Markham Gardens development and raised in West Brighton, Stradford said that if elected he wants his focus would to be on “the least of us” — traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised people like persons of color, the candidate, who is Black, said.
“I’ve lived here all of my life,” Stradford said. “I’ve gotten to know many of the residents who live here. I know what many of the residents complain about. I also am someone who has been on the ground, and in the community.”
Stradford has had a 30-year human resources career for the city in which he said he’s worked to educate employees about their rights as workers. A push that his union family background inspired, he said.
Additionally, the candidate has served as a community liaison for the office of City Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) since 2014 — a position that he said put him in close contact with community organizations around the district.
When Rose first won office as the Island’s first Black elected official in 2009, Stradford was quoted in the Advance calling it a “tremendous victory.”
“Debi has worked hard to make advancements in literacy, education, advocacy of services, not just for blacks, but seniors, students, everyone,” he said.
According to his campaign website, Stradford has also worked as an adjunct professor with the City University of New York, and spent time as a missionary in Bangladesh.
Like most candidates running for office this year, Stradford said he wants to help Staten Island’s health and economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly in underserved communities most impacted by the virus.
“What you have around public housing is a severe lack of healthcare and health access,” he said. “If you couple that with living in more densely populated areas, you now have a whole list, could very well possibly have a very long list, of comorbidities.”
To improve healthcare, Stradford said he would like to see funding for additional hospitals on Staten Island, and for improved mental resources — a goal he thinks the borough president’s office can accomplish working with the Island’s City Council delegation.
He, like his opponents, wants to improve transit on Staten Island on Staten Island through ideas like a North Shore light rail and expanded ferry service to Brooklyn and New Jersey.
On the issue of housing density, Stratford said he would work to limit overdevelopment on the Island through land use advocacy — an area where borough presidents arguably hold the most power outside of their discretionary funds.
Stradford is one of five candidates in this year’s Democratic primary — along with Lorie Honor, Cesar Vargas, Radhakrishna Mohan, and Mark Murphy. Stradford, Mohan, and Murphy have all run unsuccessful bids for elected office in the past.
Most recently, Stradford was one of two candidates last year who announced primary challenges to State Sen. Diane Savino (R-North Shore/Brooklyn). Ultimately, his name did not appear on the ballot, and he received 90 write-in votes, according to records from the New York City Board of Elections.
Despite that, Stradford said he feels that he is the best person to be the next borough president.
“I would certainly bring people to the table,” he said. “I’d be an advocate. I would also be a brand ambassador so Staten Island is not known just for a landfill, just for a ferry, we would be known for innovation.”
The Democratic and Republican primaries for city offices will be held June 22.