Though she has only lived in New York City for six years, Sara Lind has immersed herself in her Upper West Side community and is hoping to bring change at a higher level.
Lind, 38, born and raised in Wisconsin, is the co-secretary of Community Board 7. An attorney by trade, she feels more empowered helping people and making change at the ground level.
“I spent a lot of time helping people one at a time and I realized that I’m more of a big picture thinker,” Lind said. “I always felt out of place in Wisconsin.”
When she realized there would be only five women on the city council in 2021, Lind felt the urgency to throw her hat in the ring and run for the District 6 seat. In fact, she is the executive director for 21 in ’21, an organization focused on electing at least 21 women to the council in 2021.
Long determined to increase the representation of women in government, Lind worked on the Clinton campaign in 2016 and has helped direct several local campaigns, such as Dawn Smalls’ run for public advocate last year. She is the Manhattan borough director for Amplify Her, a group that promotes women candidates for elected office in New York. And she volunteers for Goddard Riverside and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, is on the school leadership team for PS 166 and is a board member of her local Democratic club.
Struggling Retailers and the Homeless
Lind told Straus News that while she loves the city, there are several issues she wants to see addressed.
Whether it’s Book Culture or Beacon Paint and Hardware, stores on the UWS are closing at an alarming rate. With rising rents, property taxes and the minimum wage, Lind acknowledges that staying open is a challenge. She said the city council must make it easier for store owners by supporting small businesses.
“The bigger picture here is there’s a dramatic shift happening nationally and globally,” Lind said. “In some ways, we’re experiencing the local effects of that. I support the minimum wage, but we also have to realize the impact it’s having on our businesses.”
Another big problem is homelessness, she said. There are different reasons for being homeless, whether it's addiction, mental health or eviction. Lind stressed that there needs to be more affordable housing, not just high-priced high rises.
Years ago, she noted, many people with mental health problems would have been institutionalized. That's not the solution today, Lind said. Instead, the city must provide better mental health and addiction services.
Schools and Bail Reform
Lind's two children, ages 6 and 9, attend public school, but the candidate wants to ensure that all the schools in the district, Harlem and the UWS, receive the same support and resources.
She also wants all schools to have guidance counselors and social workers on site. If they were in every school, she said, there might be less bullying and other problems.
“The system isn’t working well for anyone,” Lind said. “These are things that should be baseline funded from the state.”
Lind did not shy away from the highly controversial topic of bail reform. Cash bail was eliminated in 2020 for non-violent offenders, but many people have been outraged after seeing alleged criminals arrested and released the same day.
While she supports bail reform, Lind said it’s too early to tell if the new law is working. “We need to provide better support on the front end for people and better support for people who are coming out of jail or prison to help them reintegrate into the community.”
Lind is ready for a new chapter in life, and the challenges that will surely come with it. She isn’t surprised there are so few women on the city council. “It’s a lot on the family,” she said. “Women are still expected to take up the burden of children and child rearing."
If Lind has anything to say about it, more of them will be expected to take up the burden of running New York as well.