Amanda Septimo, the new state Assembly member who represents much of the South Bronx, wants to demystify politics for her constituents.
She hosted her first virtual town hall session Monday in an on-going series she calls “Mondays with Amanda.”
Similar to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats from the 1930s and ‘40s, Septimo plans to go live on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter every Monday at 8 p.m. to talk about what her office is working on both locally and in Albany. She said she doesn’t want to be a politician who avoids conversations with her constituents after getting elected.
“One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do when I joined the assembly – hoping that I would get there – was to make sure that I’m being super transparent, super accountable, super available,” Septimo said.
One digital participant complained about the management at Lincoln Hospital and asked Septimo to visit the doctors and nurses there. Septimo said she would, and that people should feel free to reach out to her on social media to set up digital and in-person meet ups.
The first event, which had a casual feel, was on the smaller and shorter side of most town halls, lasting roughly 30 minutes, with an audience of about two dozen people split between the three social media platforms.
First, Septimo described where she does much of her work with the Assembly – mainly in front of a computer screen in the Bronx. She said she’s been to Albany a few times since the new year, but has attended most meetings, workshops and votes online. When the pandemic is less hectic, she expects to be in Albany three days out of the week.
Septimo said one of her first projects was a letter she and her team wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, requesting longer hours of operation for subways to support people who work late nights.
Since last May, the subways have been shut down and cleaned every night between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to minimize spreading COVID-19. Recently, Cuomo announced the hours will switch to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. starting Feb. 22, citing as a reason for the change the longer hours that bars and restaurants are now staying open.
Half-jokingly, Septimo said she likes to think the letter had something to do with Cuomo’s decision.
“I’d like to think that it’s not that we value people going out to bars and being able to stay out late that makes us move on something as important as how people get around the city,” she said. “I’d like to think that it’s the reality that we decided to center essential workers — low-income people who don’t have other transit options – that’s what we really decided to think about when we made the decision to open the subways longer.”
After a person asked about her take on possible MTA fare increases, Septimo said public transit should be free for city residents.
“We can’t keep asking people to pay more money for a system that’s doing worse,” she said.
One change coming to New York in 2022 is new redistricting methods.
A 10-member commission — two from each party in each branch of the state Legislature and two selected by the other members of the commission – will be in charge of proposing district outlines. The hope is to create a less partisan method of redistricting.
Septimo said it will be interesting to see how it plays out, but currently doesn’t know what changes could be made to the 84th District.
“I don’t have any idea is the truth,” she said, “but I’m hopeful that it will look a lot like what it looks like right now because this is the district that I’ve been really excited about representing.”