Monday, May 15, 2006

Working Families Party interviews Bill Perkins

We recently interviewed Bill Perkins, the WFP-endorsed candidate for the State Senate in the 30th district, for this blog. Here's the interview:
WFP: First, congratulations on the endorsement vote by the WFP's Harlem/East Harlem club. Our members are very excited to help your campaign. How helpful do you think the endorsement will be?

Bill Perkins: This endorsement means a lot to me both personally and to help win this election. I thank them for their support and what they do everyday to improve our community. These are the people on the ground that power a campaign, that make it work and that make it successful. Having the Working Families Party Harlem/East Harlem Club on board, together with 1199 SEIU, and so many other groups and people gives us the ability to spread our message across the District as we run an aggressive grassroots campaign and is another sign of the strength of this campaign.

WFP: You're running on your record of action and results. What professional accomplishments are you proudest of?

Bill Perkins: I'm proud that I've built a record of action and results, winning tough fights and making a difference for people. I'm proud of my successful fight to protect our children from the deadly effects of lead in their homes. I am proud of sponsoring the Living Wage Law, which requires companies doing business with the City to pay their employees a living wage. I'm proud of standing up early against the War in Iraq and sponsoring and passing a Council resolution against the war, an action that was repeated in cities across the country. But perhaps I am most proud that everyday my office was able to help people - neighborhood people who felt that they had no where to turn or nobody to speak for them - and we were able to get them the assistance they needed. I look forward to continuing these efforts as State Senator.

WFP: You made an impact on the netroots with your support for Howard Dean in 2004. How important are online efforts to your campaign this year?

Bill Perkins: We are reaching out to people in every way. We are at the subway stations, on the streets and in the neighborhoods running a grassroots campaign. And we are excited by the energy we feel on the Internet as well, as people from all over, particularly fellow Dean supporters, are getting involved, spreading the word and helping our strong, progressive campaign. I welcome everyone to come join us and visit us at

WFP: You're a marathoner. Will you be running two races this year (your election campaign and the NYC marathon), or just one?

Bill Perkins: I have run five New York City Marathons. Running marathons requires energy, persistence, focus, endurance, planning and sheer determination. These are exactly the qualities that have helped me win campaigns and be an effective legislator. In fact, after winning the long, tough fight to protect our children who were being poisoned by lead paint, Juan Gonzalez wrote in the Daily News, "It took the stamina of a long-distance runner to prevail against the city's powerful landlord lobby, which has resisted stronger lead paint removal laws for decades."

This year, I will run the campaign marathon - starting early in the morning to meet voters at the subways stations and finishing days late at night attending community meetings. No one will outwork us. Next year, I look forward to again running the New York City Marathon as the State Senator for the 30th District.

WFP: What's the key to winning your race?

Bill Perkins: The campaign is off to a great start. Already, Councilmembers Bob Jackson, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Miguel Martinez, former Councilmember Ronnie Eldridge, Local 1199 SEIU, the Working Families Party and others have endorsed us. We are getting a great reception on the street. The key is to work hard and get our message out and to raise the money we need to fund our effort. The vote history shows we can win. Our message and record are strong. We are working hard to raise the money we need to get the job done.

WFP: What are your goals as State Senator?

Bill Perkins: It's not enough just to talk about problems. I will be a State Senator who is willing to expend the political capital needed to solve them. With the same tenacity, passion and determination that has enabled me to get results as a neighborhood leader, tenant leader and for eight years as a City Council leader, I am ready to go to Albany to fight for change, for our values and our vision and to achieve Democratic control of the State Senate.

I am running for State Senate to help provide good schools for our children, safe, affordable homes for those who live here, quality health care accessible to all and good jobs with good wages. I am running to open up the process so all voices are heard and to continue my lifetime fight to knock down barriers and create opportunities. I will be a strong advocate for all New Yorkers and their families.

WFP: Among New York elected officials, you were one of the first and one of the loudest opponents of the war in Iraq. It seems like all of your concerns, unfortunately, have come to pass. Do you have thoughts on what the next steps should be for the anti-war movement to ensure the fastest possible exit from Iraq?

Bill Perkins: We need to continue to stand up and make our voices heard. Recently, I rallied with the Grandmothers Against the War. As they say, we need to listen to our grandmothers and end this war. Current policy is undermining both the safety of our country and the promise of America. We need this money to help our children get a better education, to provide accessible health care and better services for our seniors, to create affordable housing and for so many other unfunded projects that truly meet the public interest.
The WFP, particularly our new Harlem/East-Harlem club, is very excited about helping to elect Bill Perkins to the State Senate. We'll be following his campaign closely.

Look for more interviews to come, and let us know what questions you think we should be asking.

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