Council member James Vacca was elected as the New York City Council leader of District 13, Bronx, in 2006. His district includes the neighborhoods of Pelham Parkway North and South, Pelham Bay, Country Club, City Island, Throggs Neck, Allerton, and Morris Park.
What was your biggest achievement in 2013?
Vacca’s greatest achievement of last year was having the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed.
“For the first time we established rights for pregnant workers,” he said.
The bill requires for fair accommodations in the workplace for women workers, since women who are expecting require special care and attention during their pregnancy. For example, some work in retail requires them to stand for 12-hour shifts. With the new law, pregnant working women will now be able to file a complaint and this law is being replicated in other states.
“Too many of us assumed that these accommodations were always made,” Vacca said, but the testimonies from pregnant workers proved otherwise. “We had testimony that in many cases expecting mothers were harassed,” he said.
What will you be focusing on this year?
As the chairman of the Committee on Technology, Vacca will be making sure that he upholds transparency in the law-making process.
“I have many ideas,” Vacca said. Some of his ideas include greater knowledge about the local law-making process. He has already introduced a bill that would require community board meetings to be telecast. Vacca also introduced a bill that would require crime data from individual New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments to be posted on the internet.
“Right now if you live in public housing, you have no idea about crime rates in your own development,” he said.
What are some of the issues your constituents are concerned about?
In his district people are concerned with public safety. Also, because Vacca has the city’s largest park in his district, the Pelham Bay Park, he will focus on park issues.
“I run a very active district office. I continue to be concerned with quality of life issues in my neighborhood too,” Vacca said.
Increasing communication in the neighborhood about available city programs and city policies will be a focus for his office. “I use Facebook, I use Twitter, I have a monthly email alert,” Vacca said.
If you had a coat of arms, what would it be, and why?
“I’d like to think that I carry energy,” Vacca said. “I am energetic about anything I do. I go full steam ahead.”
This, the council member considers important since no matter your occupation, you have to look forward to going to work every day. “I look forward to public service every day,” he said.
Epoch Times is interviewing members of the 2014 New York City Council to find out what their biggest achievements were last year and what they hope to accomplish in this one. For a list of all council member articles in this project, click here.