He’s never run for public office or served as an elected official, yet Seth Rosen, a 20-year resident of the UWS, is hoping to bring progressive change to the city council.
Rosen, 45, grew up in the suburbs of Westchester in Mt. Kisco, but he’s glad to call New York City home. He began his career as a lawyer and soon transitioned to advocacy. He has held leadership roles at Amnesty International USA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
Today, Rosen is the director of development with the National LGBT Bar Association.
Now, with Council Member Helen Rosenthal reaching her term limit in November, he is hoping to fill her vacancy. If elected, he would be the only LGBTQ person on the council, as the five current LGBTQ members will have all reached their term limits.
“It’s important to have that LGBTQ voice there,” Rosen said.
The key issues facing the district, according to Rosen, are homelessness, rising storefront vacancies and a problem-plagued education system. Schools above 96th Street should get the same treatment as those below it, he said.
“Our schools are some of the most segregated in the United States. We need to do a better job at making sure that we have educational equity in all of our schools in District 6 and throughout New York City,” said Rosen, who is married to Jacob Goertz and has two school-age children. “Schools should reflect the city as a whole.”
The rising commercial vacancies throughout the city, more specifically, on the UWS, is alarming. “We need to do a better job of representing the interests of a small business,” he said.
And then there is homelessness. While Mayor Bill de Blasio has instituted the Turn the Tide Plan, which will eliminate all cluster apartment units by the end of 2021 (cluster sites use privately owned apartment buildings to house homeless) and commercial hotels by the end of 2023, Rosen emphasized that permanent homes, not shelters is the answer.
He noted that the city is infiltrated with new high rises every day, but asks where is the affordable housing or new schools? “We have to make sure that we’re building things that are actually appropriate for our community,” he said. “There are too many people living on the street. It’s not enough to be in a shelter, people can’t survive that way.”
Rosen also touched on the controversial new bail reform law, which eliminates cash bail for nonviolent crimes, and cautioned that it’s still too early to judge if the law is working.
Among the other issues Rosen wants to address if he wins a seat on the council are providing better care for HIV patients and improving the mass transit system. “As the council person for District 6, I will be a champion for every day working New Yorkers,” Rosen said.