NEW YORK—Council Member Mark Treyger was elected into New York City Council in 2013. He is the representative of District 47 which includes the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Seagate.
What was your biggest achievement in 2013?
Inspired by his mentor, Assemblyman William Colton, Council member Treyger decided to dedicate his life to public service and give back to the community, the way America provided his parents with opportunities after they escaped the Soviet Union in the 70s. Treyger developed a keen interest in politics and taught history and U.S. government courses in high school for eight years before he ran for Council. During that time, Treyger also worked for Colton for 10 years.
This past year he worked hard on helping out his students who were displaced to different neighborhoods after their houses were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Even though officials were announcing that the southern Brooklyn communities have recovered, Treyger knew that there was still a lot of work to get done.
“We’re not back until our families are back, until services are restored,” he said.
Working with the community to change the leadership at Lafayette High School, which had a history of bullying incidents, taught Treyger that organizing and coming together with locals can lead to positive change. As the Transportation Improvement Coalition co-chair, Treyger fought for the re-establishment of the complete bus route B64, which was an important lifeline for small businesses, seniors, and commuters in Bath Beach and Coney Island.
What will you be focusing on this year?
Some of the issues brought up in the community are the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings that installed temporary boilers in houses affected by Sandy, which are now breaking down.
“We’re a coastal community so flooding is a major issue,” he said.
The sewer system gets flooded every time there’s heavy rainfall. Expanding transportation options is also on Treyger’s list of priorities.
“[The MTA] have a very bad history in the outer boroughs with transportation,” he said.
Another pressing issue for the community is the garbage transfer station that was allowed by the state to be built at Gravesend Bay, at a location where an incinerator used to burn garbage there decades prior, leaving tons of harmful chemicals that settled on the riverbed. The city wanted to dredge the riverbed which would bring all the hazardous chemicals to the surface, and Treyger’s attorney is still fighting the case to stop the station from being built.
Another thing Treyger feels passionate about is introducing more career-technical education for kids in high schools, like fashion, culinary arts, and engineering.
“It’s not just about tests, or dreams about the biggest jobs, there are so many different fields. I want to expose our students to those opportunities,” he said.
Treyger also calls himself a ‘fierce advocate’ for kids with special needs.
“Why can’t we move our system to teach to their strengths? That might address some of their weaknesses,” he said.
What are some of the issues your constituents are concerned about?
A lot of issues raised by constituents revolve around infrastructure, because of the Sandy-related damage. A police station at Seagate, for example, was destroyed and displaced after the storm, and the officers are working out of a trailer.
“We do need more officers, we need more security, but at the same time we also need to provide people with opportunities to get training, education, jobs,” he said.
For Treyger there’s a direct correlation between economy and crime, and with too many people unemployed, crime is on the rise.
If you had a coat of arms, what would it be, and why?
One word that Council member Treyger would depict on his Coat of Arms would be: Resilience.
“We will bounce back,” he said. He said a belief in a victory, combined with hard work will get positive results. “Even though the odds might not be with you, history is,” 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.