Fair Workweek + Khader El-Yateem Interview

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Local News


Khader El-Yateem for City Council

Interview with Khader El-Yateem

The Newsletter conducted an interview via email with DSA endorsee for City Council in District 43 (Bay Ridge) Khader El-Yateem. Come to his campaign kick-off party and BBQ hosted by the NYC DSA this Saturday, June 10th, noon, at the An-Noor Center in Bay Ridge.

NYC DSA Electoral Newsletter: What motivated you to seek the endorsement of NYC-DSA? How do you feel being aligned with DSA will help you win the election?

Khader El-Yateem: My campaign is about social, racial, and economic justice, and no other group articulates these issues and focuses on them in the same way as DSA. I want to be part of a political group that prioritizes truly ending economic inequality, and is not beholden to the political establishment in the process. I think there are many, many residents in my district with whom this agenda resonates - people who can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, people that can’t afford health insurance, people that can’t afford college for their kids and are realizing that politics as usual isn’t helping them.

NYCDSAEN: Do you see identifying as a socialist and other potentially controversial positions, like supporting Boycott, DIvest, Sanctions (BDS), as assets? Are you worried about alienating conservative voters?

KEY: I am fortunate that I have been working in my community for 22 years, and my legacy in the community is that I am known as someone who can work with everyone, and who will work across party lines to accomplish what needs to be done. Being firmly rooted in values of justice, including socialism and BDS for example, is not only important, it’s who I am. So yes, I do believe there will be some who will be turned off by these words. But I am proud of what I have accomplished over the past 22 years while having these values, and I think that’s what I will be known for. I’m excited to have conversations with people for whom these are new concepts.

NYCDSAEN: How do you see socialism from a religious perspective? Do you feel like socialist policies will get support from religious communities? Could those communities help normalize socialism?

KEY: Jesus was a socialist - plain and simple. He believed in redistributing wealth, he believed in looking after his neighbors, in ailing the sick and feeding the hungry above all. As a Christian, I see it as my duty to promote these values as much as I can. I hope that as a clergyman who serves in City Council, I can help to encourage religious communities to take the lead in fighting for policies like universal healthcare, free tuition, and other issues, and to see it as an extension of Jesus’s work.

NYCDSAEN: What are some specific policy goals that set you apart from progressive Democrats already on the City Council?

KEY: I support the Right to Know Act, I support municipal voting for green card holders, closing Rikers in under ten years, and working with colleagues on the state level to fight for Single Payer healthcare. I want to fight for moving Community Boards to an elected, as opposed to appointed, model. And in general, I want to fight to put our workers, and the issues faced by our unions, at the forefront - because I see that sometimes “progressive” doesn’t translate to progressive on labor issues when developer money is on the table.

NYCDSAEN: What are some ways that NYC-DSA members can help your campaign?

KEY: We need as many boots on the ground as possible so that we can get on the ballot, knock on every door in the neighborhood, and turn out the votes of our supporters. DSA members can help by showing up to canvass, phone bank, and petition. And in the process, you will be helping to build up an alternative to the political establishment in Southern Brooklyn.

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