Sen. Kevin Parker returns to 21st Senatorial District

Senator Kevin Parker with residents of his 21st Senatorial District, Brooklyn, during a past Harvest Fest Backpack giveaway.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

After an unsuccessful bid for New York city comptroller, Senator Kevin Parker who has served the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn for the past 19 years, returned to office to serve out his term.

Described as a prominent New York State legislator, distinguished savvy strategist, brilliant intellectual and elder statesman, Parker said he is deserving of his Senate seat, and will continue to work hard for constituents, while seeking another term when he comes up for re-election in 2023.

He told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview via Zoom on Tuesday, July 6, that he wakes up every day with an attitude of gratitude to serve, and hopes to start campaigning sometime in January/February 2022, to convince voters that “we can hold on.”

A member of the New American Task Force, and former Majority Whip, the lawmaker will host his Annual Harvest Fest Backpack giveaway at the end of August 2021, and will push for reform in specialized education to benefit Black and Latino students, who are at a disadvantage when it comes to impartiality.

“We have to find a way to address education equitably in our city, not from a financial prospective but ensuring that minority are in the classroom they need to be in,” said Parker.

He pointed out that Stuyvesant High School, for instance, enrolls 1000 freshmen yearly, yet, only 10 are Black, nothing that not enough conversation or energy is behind this issue which he plans on championing over the next year, before his term ends.

Combating climate change is one of the Senator’s major projects. “It is not only about saving the planet, it is how we create full-time jobs and a living wage with benefits, in a clean economy,” said the politician, who will continue to leader the fight for legislation, so that minorities can take advantage of those opportunities in the context of creating new clean energy in New York.

Asked how he will respond to constituents, who say he abandoned them to run for higher office, the long-time politician quipped, “If someone decides they wanted a promotion, it does not mean they should be fired.

‘I ran for comptroller because that position became available, and I thought that my skills and abilities lined up well with that position. I wasn’t necessary looking to leave the Senate, this opportunity came in the middle of the pandemic, and our community needed somebody, like me, who would be equitable, represent the community in the right way, and correct disparities seen in communities of color during the coronavirus pandemic.”

“I was doing well at a high level, and if people in New York decided that I wasn’t the right person for that promotion, (comptroller) that is fine. I will continue to do my job as a senator, but I don’t think I should be fired just because I thought I was entitled to a promotion,” said Parker, adding, that he will continue over the next year and a half to work hard for the people.

He posited that the 60 percent of Black and Latino businesses shuttered due to the pandemic will remain closed, compared to white counterparts, who will have a higher percentage of re-openings.

He said the only African-American to ever control the billions of dollars in the comptroller’s office was Bill Thompson, and had hoped to be voted into the position to help the city recover from the devastating pandemic.

However, he admits that mistakes were made, like not raising campaign funds, and not starting his campaign early enough.

“I decided not to raise funds during the height of the pandemic, and that decision was a fatal one. I simply didn’t have enough money to get the message out. It was not meant to be this time, reasoned Sen. Parker.

As a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, he said it was critically important to put a utility moratorium in place during the coronavirus pandemic when there was talk of cancellation of rent to help families to cope.

“We still need to do what we can around utility arrears. People have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and remained unemployed over the past year. We need to find a way to help those people pay their bills,” said the senator.

He lauded himself for passing several bills while campaigning. He also encouraged the Office of Minority and Health Disparities to conduct a study of COVID-19 in Black and Latino communities.

“We will spend a lot of time working to address healthcare needs, food insecurity in our district, while putting programs in place to create opportunities to keep our community safe, which is a big concern for residents,” said Parker while addressing the ongoing need for unemployment insurance.

“I am happy that I get to represent my constituents in the Senate. I look forward to working for them,” he said.