NEW YORK — Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit CEO seeking to become the city’s first Latina mayor, has experience providing housing for New Yorkers in need.

But she tells NY1 she’d have an ever bigger impact leading City Hall.

The Democratic candidate was most recently the CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, a social services nonprofit in the South Bronx, and she also helped found an education nonprofit that helps preschoolers prepare for kindergarten. 

Although Morales is proud of her work providing housing — including for homeless families, people with substance abuse problems, and young New Yorkers aging out of foster care — she said in a Friday night interview with Inside City Hall anchor Errol Louis it was clear she could only do so much.

“After a certain point, you realize that it’s really just a Band-Aid, that there are these deeply embedded issues and challenges, and that in order for us to actually make a difference — a long-term sustainable difference — we actually have to get at those things,” she said. “So I’ve been looking for a while as to how I could bring my personal experiences and my professional executive experiences…so I could have the largest impact on the greatest number of New Yorkers, and I think this is it.”

In the interview, Morales backed progressive measures gaining popularity in the city, including defunding the police. She called the NYPD’s budget “bloated” and argued “policing does not equal public safety.” She proposed moving funds from the police budget into programs and services for underserved communities, and backed removing police officers from schools.

It’s unclear how many mayoral candidates will also back the “defund the police” stance, but it may be instrumental to anyone looking to shore up support with the city’s most liberal voters. Over the summer, with daily police reform protests, these voters became increasingly vocal about wanting to “defund the police,” although there are varying ideas about how far that should go. Some progressives want a complete abolishment of the police department, while others want the NYPD budget to be reduced.

Morales didn’t mention Mayor Bill de Blasio or Gov. Andrew Cuomo by name, but she echoed some of the criticisms New Yorkers have about the return of restrictions in Brooklyn and Queens related to the uptick in coronavirus cases. She maintained there has been much confusion due to mixed messages and insufficient explanations for these controversial orders.

“If we’re going to shut things down, we should be doing it in a clear way. There was a lot of confusion about the way this went down. There were a lot of mixed messages being sent,” she said. “Once of the things that I’ve learned…in many instances, people may not like the decisions that you make. But if they are clear about the reasoning behind it and the why behind it and the exact sort of decisions that are being made, they will begrudgingly go along with it but they will go along with it.”

The mayoral candidate also said while she wasn’t sure what outreach has been made to Orthodox Jewish residents in Brooklyn — some of whom have protested the shutdowns in large crowds while not wearing face coverings — she called for providing “culturally relevant” education while engaging community leaders so they understand the challenges.


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Watch the full interview above.


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