Emily Gallagher has taken her seat as the assembly member for District 50, however she has been taking a stand in the Greenpoint community for nearly as long as she’s lived here. Born in Rochester, New York, Gallagher has called Greenpoint home for the past thirteen years. Just one year after she arrived here she joined Neighbors Allied for Good Growth and in 2010 became a co-chair of their board. She has stood in the front line at rallies for increasing green space, safer streets, protecting rent stabilization, and recently protesting the National Grid’s Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure Project (MRI) Phase 5 (a pipeline through North Brooklyn).
As she begins her new role as the Assembly Member for District 50 I asked her some questions.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Assembly Member Emily Gallagher: So much! I’m really looking forward to taking the many voices of our neighborhoods to Albany and bringing back results. It’s such a humbling opportunity to be able to help respond to our community’s needs with legislation and constituent services.
What is a top issue you plan to take to the floor?
AM Emily Gallagher: Our economy is really broken. Even as so many New Yorkers struggle with housing insecurity, loss of income, small business closure, cuts to services, and all the other challenges this pandemic has brought, the stock market has soared to record highs and the rich are getting richer. The biggest fight right now is making sure our state doesn’t try to balance the budget on the backs of renters, workers, students, and families but instead asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share. I’m excited to support a historic state legislative package to rebuild New York’s economy along these lines. I’m also planning to work for significantly more relief and stability for tenants, small business owners and folks who might be at risk of defaulting on mortgages. The stakes are incredibly high right now and I am ready to fight hard for our community.
Why is this your top issue?
AM Emily Gallagher: The pandemic has exposed just how deep the inequities of our state are. Many are suffering and struggling, but others are skating along the top and actually profiting off of our distress. It’s important to even the playing field so that we can all survive and thrive.
What do you perceive will be your biggest challenges?
AM Emily Gallagher: The way our state government is structured gives an enormous amount of power to the governor, leaving little room for legislators to influence the most significant decisions. At every level, our system needs deep reform and a lot more democracy to function.
What are your unique abilities that will address these challenges and help you make a difference.
AM Emily Gallagher: I like to think I’ve learned to be unafraid in the face of conflict. I feel at my best when I am listening to my conscience. This isn’t always easy—often what is moral or ethical isn’t quick or profitable. But I have a very strong backbone. I’m collaborative and I also really care, deeply, about people and love to problem-solve. I’m also convinced I have hired the absolute best staff. We are small, but we will be mighty.
What elements of your campaign helped you win the election?
AM Emily Gallagher: I think because the campaign was happening at such a dire time, it helped me that I was experiencing the real life impacts of it. I lost my job and was on unemployment for many months. I was struggling to pay my rent and experiencing landlord harassment. I was having to make many terrible and scary decisions right alongside the rest of the community. That personal experience helped me choose the right battles that resonated with so many and led to my election.
Do you have any goals for your first term?
AM Emily Gallagher: I want to help folks get back on their feet and recover from this crisis by raising the revenue we need to invest in popular programs and real relief. And I want to establish a professional, welcoming and responsive office that helps residents solve problems big and small!
To see Assemblymember Gallagher introduction at the NY Assembly’s first full day of 2021’s legislative session, click here.