By Eva Herrick
New York City, New York
State Committeewoman Tamika Mapp of New York’s 68th Assembly District is a Progressive Democrat running for city council in District 8. Mapp is running against incumbent democrat Diana Ayala in a district that spans from East Harlem to the South Bronx.
Throughout her life, Mapp has overcome many obstacles, as she experienced abuse as a child, giving birth at fourteen and living homeless, but as she says, “I never let myself be a statistic, and I never let hardship hold me back.” Tamika served in the U.S. Army, earned a college degree and is now the founder and CEO of the East Harlem Insurance Brokerage and Tax Service. She is a District 8 native and is currently raising her family in East Harlem.
During her time in office as State Committeewoman, Mapp has helped to pass “Raise the Age” legislation to keep children out of Rikers Island. She started the organization Progressives Educating New Yorkers, which provides formerly incarcerated people with the skills to succeed in the insurance industry. Outside of government, Mapp has dedicated her life to giving back as a Girl Scout leader, small business mentor and PTA President.
When asked why she decided to enter the race, Mapp said that District 8 is “not getting what we need for the community.” Mapp credits her challenges as the cornerstone for her policy, saying that “all of those issues really shaped me to where I see the vision for the community.” She outlined three key issues she wished were addressed when she was younger: mental health services, job training programs and affordable housing. She said, “As a 14 year old at the time having a baby, mental health services weren't really available to be able to cope with parenthood....I wish I had job training programs that would prepare me to have a career after high school, for me to be able to take care of my child...I wish that we had affordable housing that was geared towards my income at the time.”
In 2013, Mapp lost her daughter to suicide. This tragedy was catalyzed by her experience in Family Court, so Mapp plans to reform the family court system and establish Grandparents’ rights. She has experienced homelessness and believes “housing is a right, a human right, it is not something of privilege." She has made it a priority to increase access to affordable and safe housing. She will fight to repair NYCHA buildings and fund the Community Land Trust. As a small business owner, Mapp understands how important small business owners are to the community, so she works to prepare them to succeed financially. Mapp has also become invested in her community garden, Lydia's Magic Garden, which is “a great way to de-stress, teach children about conservation and living a healthy lifestyle, and cleans the air in the neighborhood.”
When asked why she should be the preferred candidate for District 8 over Ayala, she highlighted communication with constituents, keeping the community informed and improving language access as her priorities. Mapp recognizes that people are asking for services from Ayala’s staff, but their calls are not being returned in a timely manner. Ayala’s staff has also been lacking in providing discretionary funding for nonprofits, a task Mapp has picked up, as she is currently helping four nonprofits that tried but failed to contact Ayala. Mapp also values keeping the community informed and vows to talk about what bills she is trying to pass in a weekly newsletter, unlike Ayala, who has only disclosed her thoughts on a select few pieces of legislation. The final reason was language accessibility, especially for French and Chinese speakers in District 8. Ayala does not have staff members who can communicate with these members of the community, but Mapp plans to ensure all voices are heard. Mapp also commented that Ayala was lacking in her connection to the constituency in the South Bronx, by not attending the community education council or board meetings, and not having office hours, all of which Mapp is already taking on.
Mapp said that she is “all about community,” calling her constituents on their birthdays and buying people groceries on Wednesdays. The District 8 City Council primary election is this June 22. To read more about Tamika Mapp and her policy, visit her campaign website: http://mapp.vote/