In more ways than one, Stacy Lynch’s entry into New York City politics has been a long time coming.
The daughter of the late political consultant Bill Lynch – who managed the campaign that elected David Dinkins as the city’s first black mayor – Stacy watched her father as he navigated City Hall, picking up over the years a respect for government work and passion for serving one’s community.
Last spring, after putting in a few years of her own time at City Hall as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lynch was ready to leave her post to start building a campaign for City Council in District 7. But, at this time, the coronavirus was creating an urgent crisis, and Lynch said she could not in good conscious leave when so many needed government assistance. She became the point person in the administration in coming up with quick solutions for under-resourced districts, and by doing so, she said, it revealed to her the inequities that have always existed in the city.
“It was an unreal experience,” said Lynch, who stayed on with the de Blasio administration through the worst of the pandemic. She said she’s more prepared now than ever to serve her community.
“That experience, I think, has really trained me to address some of the issues that are happening within the district,” said Lynch, who officially kicked off her campaign for council last month. District 7 covers parts of the Upper West Side, West Harlem and Washington Heights. The seat is being vacated by Mark Levine, who is term limited.
While Lynch is still developing her platform, she has a very clear philosophy on how she wants to approach the work of a City Council member – a philosophy she’s adopted from her father.
“It’s one of those things where you’re a kid and you always think, my parents don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Lynch. “But my father had it right all along. He knew that to get something done, you have to build coalitions. That was ingrained in me unknowingly at a very young age.”
Lynch said she will pull stakeholders from the district together to find solutions for the issues facing the community. She pointed to work she’s already done on top of her role at City Hall, by teaming up with elected officials, local precincts, Community Board 7 & 9, and other community leaders, in the last seven months to create a task force focused on addressing issues of race, equity and quality of life.
In talking about her governing style, Lynch distanced herself slightly from her former boss, who she said she’s known for most of her life.
“I personally adore the mayor, and he will always be someone that I personally love as an uncle,” said Lynch. “But there were a few things that I disagreed with, and one being the approach of internal and external coalition building.”
She said she’s working with the community to refine her policy priorities, both through conversations she’s been having with residents as she walks her Rottweiler lab, Bear, around Harlem and by recruiting CUNY students to come up with fresh ideas.
“I’m working with young, bright folks from City College, and some policy folks that I have worked with in the past, to develop a COVID-19 plan for the district,” said Lynch. “And we’re going to look at all of these issues from poverty, to food security, to health, to the workforce, to small businesses.”
“No New Friends”
On her campaign site, Lynch lists that she’s dedicated to protecting immigrant workers from the threats of discrimination and deportation; redirecting funds from NYPD to community-based programs targeting homelessness and mental health; preserving and repairing NYCHA developments; securing affordable housing units in new construction projects; and rezoning Morningside Heights to end high-rise, non-contextual development.
When asked if she would take contributions from real estate developers, Lynch said she was open to it, and would act as an honest broker with the motto of: “No new friends.”
“The bottom line for me is if it’s not good for the district, your council member is not going to do it,” Lynch said of trade-offs for real estate donors.
Lynch and her campaign have been endorsed by 21 in ’21, a grassroots group fighting to elect women to City Council, where only five women are ensured to keep their seats in 2021.
It’s a mission in which Lynch is deeply invested. In her own life, Lynch has created a sisterhood of sorts with fellow daughters of the Civil Rights movement, including the daughters of Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and Al Sharpton. In part, creating this community was a way to continue the legacy of her family’s activism, but it was also a way to fill a void in her own life.
“I created that sisterhood because I felt alone when I went into the [de Blasio] administration,” said Lynch. “I needed a support system to kind of get me through this next stage in my life where I didn’t have my father. I needed a group of women that understood what I was going through.”
She wants to put that into practice through her campaign, noting the importance of bringing on a woman to be her campaign manager.
“Tons of women do the work but don’t necessarily get the credit,” said Lynch. “We need more women involved in politics and campaigning. What I want is to not just run for public office, but to figure out how to really bridge that gap.”
“I personally adore the mayor, and he will always be someone that I personally love as an uncle. But there were a few things that I disagreed with, and one being the approach of internal and external coalition building.” City Council candidate Stacy Lynch