Pol giving constituents chance to influence policy
State Senator Jessica Ramos rolled out a new initiative to collect information from constituents that could be used shape policy.
Entitled the Community Pulse Check, Ramos’ office assembled a questionnaire, essentially a community-tailored mini-census, focusing on issues like education, transportation, immigration, health care, and housing.
Specific questions include, “Do you support The NY Protect Our Courts Act,” “Do you support the redesign of Northern Boulevard,” and “Do you feel safe living in District 13?”
Volunteers in blue t-shirts will be standing on street corners or knocking on doors, or constituents can use the Reach app to fill out the questionnaires. Volunteers will also input information they collect into the app.
“The only required field on our survey is the zip code, so we know it’s a district resident,” Ramos said. “Everything else is optional.”
Antonio Alarcon, director of organizing for the initiative, noted concerns about disclosing information, which is still heightened due to President Donald Trump’s attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
“We ask them to fill out as much as they can,” he said. “Obviously, their names and addresses are something that’s touchy for many folks.”
Ramos promised that the collected information is secure.
“Reach is also what has been used for many electoral campaigns as of late,” she said of the app. “There has never been any breach.”
Over the last three weeks, Ramos’ team began a soft rollout of the initiative, collecting 300 surveys. Among the initial responses, Alarcon said the largest concerns are in the areas of immigration, health care, and transportation.
“There are lots of immigration inquiries right now, especially here in the district with the raids that were threatened,” Ramos said.
Health care is one area where Ramos is looking forward to seeing feedback.
“We technically don’t have a hospital in the district,” she said. “We’re have Elmhurst and Mt. Sinai on either end, but it leaves a huge core part of the district without any immediate access to medical care.”
Ramos hopes to receive at least 2,000 completed surveys “to give us a real representation of what the most diverse district in the country needs.”
“I am hoping from the data we collect, I will get new ideas for legislation and I will know how to better advocate for specific budget amounts for the different areas,” she said.
Last Thursday morning, blue-clad volunteers took to the streets outside the Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Jackson Heights to hand out flyers explaining the initiative.
“A lot of these people don’t know that these programs are out there,” said Tristan Mulvihill, an intern at Senator Ramos’ office. “I really think it’s going to bring the community together.”