Photo illustration by Johansen Peralta
Apr 24, 2023
The ‘unapologetic quest’ of City Council’s Crystal Hudson
Hudson, who represents the borough's 35th district, joins us on the podcast to discuss a year in office, progressivism and what's next
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Crystal Hudson didn’t initially intend to get into public service. The City Council member, who represents the 35th district, was in marketing for a decade, first for pro sports in Washington D.C., and then for Amtrak. But when Hudson’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she became her primary caregiver for eight years … and found herself navigating the byzantine bureaucratic systems for elderly and sick New Yorkers. Galvanized to make a difference, she went to work for the city where she served as deputy public advocate to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and is a former aide to City Council Member Laurie Cumbo. She ran for office in 2021 on a platform that tackled issues around affordable housing, education, criminal justice reform, and elder care.
This week, Council Member Hudson, a third generation Brooklynite from Prospect Heights who represents her own neighborhood plus Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and part of Bed-Stuy, joins us on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.” One of first openly Black gay black women — and one of 20 members of the progressive caucus — on the City Council, Hudson opens up about her first year in office, her accomplishments, goals and challenges.
“It’s really just being unapologetic and very clear about making sure that the needs of the most vulnerable people are being met,” she says on the podcast. “I used to say years ago, progressivism is progress for everyone. It’s not progress for some people, or the most wealthy people. It’s progress for everybody. What’s changed from a few years ago to now is that sort of unyielding, persistent, unapologetic quest, to actually serve the people with the greatest needs.”
We discuss her vision for a revamped Atlantic Avenue corridor, her role in the Council’s streamlined progressive caucus, her views on Mayor Eric Adams, the displacement of legacy Black residents from her district and more. Also, because we like to hold our elected officials accountable around here, there is a pop quiz, but you need to listen to the podcast to hear that.
This interview has been edited for concision and clarity. You can listen to it in its entirety in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.
Talk a bit about your background. You worked in sports marketing for 10 years, you’re a year into this gig. What prompted you to make that career transition? Because your political origin story is interesting and probably resonates with a lot of people.
I started my career with a WNBA team down in D.C., the Washington Mystics. And then when the ownership of that team acquired the Washington Wizards, I was also working for the Wizards, and the arena, and all of the teams, the hockey team as well, although I was working specifically with the basketball teams. And then from there, I went on to Amtrak, and at Amtrak I ran their sports, entertainment, and multicultural marketing portfolio.
I had not anticipated asking this question at all, but what is sports marketing for Amtrak?
No, I know. Many people ask that question. We sponsored teams all across the country, across all different leagues. So we sponsored major league baseball teams, NFL teams, NBA, WNBA teams, arenas, stadiums, and we basically just tried to encourage people to take the train, whether you’re taking the train to a game, to see a game as a fan, or during the game, we’re telling you that you should take the train to go on vacation, or take a trip, or what have you. I mean, Amtrak is the nation’s passenger railroad service. If you’re in Chicago, we sponsored the Chicago Cubs as an example, and I went out to Chicago, I took the train to Chicago. We encouraged people to either do that, take a trip from Chicago to New York, or you can take a train regionally within Illinois, or maybe Chicago to St. Louis or something like that.
Did you ever work with Joe Biden, who’s a big Amtrak fan?
I didn’t work with him, but he was a big fan. I mean, Amtrak Joe! We welcomed his great advocacy for train travel. One of the coolest things that I didn’t work on directly, it also predated my time at Amtrak, but when the Yankees played the Phillies in a World Series match up in 2009, they wrapped the train cars in branding for the series, and the teams took the train between games.
How does one get into politics?
So I spent my time working in those spaces, and then my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I moved back home to Brooklyn. I became my mother’s caregiver almost overnight. And in fact, for the first year that I started noticing signs that I thought could be dementia or something, and was working towards getting a diagnosis for her, I took Amtrak every single weekend. I hopped on the train Fridays after work in D.C., I took the train up to New York, stayed with my mom for the weekend, and I would take the 6 a.m. train back on Monday morning and go straight to the office. And I did that for a year, just to keep a closer eye on her and make sure I knew what was going on. And then eventually I moved back to New York, and moved in with my mom, and my partner and I cared for her for about eight years before she passed in 2021.
She passed right when you were elected, is that right? Or the year, same year?
She passed during my campaign, actually, a couple of months before my primary election. But my partner always said to me in that time, “If she didn’t think you were ready, then she wouldn’t have gone at that time.” What really propelled me into public service was caring for my mom, was serving as a caregiver, and seeing firsthand how incredibly difficult it was to get access to services, to resources, basic information even at times. Navigating bureaucracy, the healthcare system, trying to figure out what you qualify for, and so often when the case is you’re being told what you don’t qualify for. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make sure that other families wouldn’t have to go through what my family had to go through. And so I figured if I entered into local politics, I might actually have a real opportunity to effect change at a very grassroots, local, personal level. And so that’s what got me into public service.
And so you left a career in marketing and you went to work for the city government, but you didn’t immediately run for office.
Correct. I worked in the City Council, and I was also the first deputy public advocate for community engagement under our current public advocate, Jumaane Williams. Then I spent about three years total in those spaces, before I ran for office in 2021.
Was there a galvanizing moment where you were like, “I’m just going to put my hat in the ring,” or were you asked to run, or…
I was definitely asked to run. It wasn’t something that I had always had in mind, but the longer I spent serving my neighbors and New Yorkers, the more that people said, “You should run for office,” or, “You should think about running for office,” or, “You might be great in the City Council.” There’s a saying, or I guess it’s more of a statistic than a saying, but it says that you have to ask a woman 10 times to run for office before she says yes, versus a man who doesn’t have to be asked at all.
That’s probably true, and unfortunate on a few levels. What did you pick up from Jumaane? He’s a obviously dynamic and interesting figure in his own right. Did you learn much from him? Were you guys learning at the same time?
A little bit of both. He was new into the citywide position, so there was definitely a learning curve for everyone, himself included, but the whole team. But it was a really great opportunity for me to see firsthand his advocacy, and really from a citywide perspective how we can actually affect change, and the ways in which we can advocate for New Yorkers all across the city and the five boroughs. It was a really great experience. I had a huge team that spanned everything from area specific folks, to borough advocates, we called them. It was great. It was learning what’s going on in specific neighborhoods, in specific boroughs, bringing that back to the office, thinking about how do we translate those issues and concerns into policy? And on the flip side, how do we lead on particular topics and issues? Whether it’s criminal justice reform, or health justice, environmental justice, how all of those things intersect, housing justice, and how can we lend a big citywide voice like Jumaane’s to all of those causes?
Once you did run, you were running on all of these issues, and the Council passed three of the 10 bills you proposed in your Age In Place NYC package in your first year, which is I would imagine a nice win.
It is. And now I think the number is five.
Is it up to five? Sorry. Can you talk broad strokes about that package? Broad strokes, we don’t need to get into the weeds on all of them, but what went through that you helped push through, that has its roots in this background story with your own mom?
I’m chair of the aging committee, which I was appointed to be at the beginning of my term last year, and I’ve been advocating for older adults for 10 years now, and it seemed like definitely a natural fit. And I’ve always said, I want to make seniors sexy again.
They’re sexier than they’ve ever been.
Certainly they would tell you so, but the issue really lies with so many of us who don’t see them that way. So the Age In Place NYC package is really an opportunity to put forth legislation that directly impacts the needs of older New Yorkers. One statistic I’ll share quickly is that of New Yorkers age 65 and over, 50 percent are foreign born. And so one bill that’s part of the package is addressing cultural competency, and cultural needs of New Yorkers who are visiting older adult clubs, or senior centers as we used to call them. Making sure that the food that they’re being served is culturally relevant, making sure that the programming is culturally relevant, all those sorts of things that we’re thinking about. So the package really is just an opportunity for us to say to older New Yorkers, “We see you, we know what your needs are, and we’re introducing these pieces of legislation to make it easier to age right here in New York City.”
You yourself are a third generation Brooklynite from Prospect Heights. You represent the neighborhood you grew up in, among others. Talk about your constituents beyond the elderly. How would you describe them as a group? Obviously it’s not a monolith. When you’re at a cocktail party saying, “Well, my constituents are X,” how would you break that down?
My district is incredibly diverse, and it looks very different from when I was growing up.
Oh, that was my next question. Yeah, A lot of change in the past 30, 40 years.
A lot of change. I mean, we’ve lost 20 percent of our black population over the last 10 years, so it’s not even in a very long time. But we have diversity in age, diversity in race and ethnicity, diversity in socioeconomic backgrounds and professions, in family makeup and composition. And so really in every type of way my district is very, very unique. I’m also home to the Brooklyn cultural arts scene. In my district, we have Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We have Mark Morris Dance Company.
You have BRIC.
I have BRIC, yep. And then many smaller arts organizations and spaces, and so it’s a thriving, exciting, vibrant, diverse district that I’m really, really proud and lucky to represent.
And you have Spike Lee.
And we have Spike Lee. Yes.
What is the most common complaint, request, ask for help, that you get from your constituents?
Most common is definitely housing. Anything pertaining to housing, usually it is housing insecurity issues. So whether it’s eviction or people facing housing court, a lot of issues, a lot of disputes between tenants and landlords. A lot of repairs that don’t get done in apartments by landlords, things like that, and every single one of those issues we can help with. We are a first stop for folks, and that’s something that I really want people to know, that they can always reach out to their local Council member, whoever that may be, and they should serve as a resource to you no matter what the issue may be. Because if we can’t help resolve the issue, then we can point you in the direction of somebody who can.
How do you get that messaging out there? Because obviously this particular City Council is one of the youngest, one of the more diverse that we’ve had. You’ve got people like yourself, Chi Osse, who’s really dynamic, engaged in the community, Shahana Hanif. But when you’re talking about constituents who even have City Council on their radar, they do tend to be the elderly. They do tend to be people who have a history of feeling enfranchised and voting, which is not the case these days. How do you engage people who, without even knowing that you’re there, and show that you’re there to represent?
It’s a great question. It’s one that I think about every single day, and I have charged my team with reaching the constituents that don’t know who we are. That’s really the most important thing that we can do, because those are usually the people who need the most assistance. The people who don’t even know who their Council member is, the people who don’t know that local government is here to assist, or the people who have made a choice not to engage with local government because they failed them so many times.
People feel so burned by it over and over, yeah.
Absolutely. I want to help change that. I want to help people feel good about local government again. And so we do a lot of outreach events. We partner with different organizations to get the word out about us. We do lit drops, which is basically going into apartment buildings and dropping pieces of literature, sliding them under the door, making sure that people know that we’re here, and we’re here to help, and that there are specific resources they can reach out to our office for. And doing things like this, talking to folks and doing interviews and making sure that we get out there as much as possible so that people know exactly how to find us.
Go back to that stat that you mentioned earlier, because I did want to bring it up. Your district has lost 20 percent of its Black population in the decade from 2010 to 2020. When you think about that number, what can or should City Council even do? Obviously it brings up issues of gentrification, of class and structural barriers. What can you do?
There are a number of things. One is really around housing. We need to be able to make it more affordable to live in New York City, and that is both the City Council is charged with that, and also the mayor is charged with that. On the administration side, we need to be building more housing, more deeply affordable housing, more workforce housing. There’s this in between space, and I fell into this with my mother actually, where you make too much to qualify for real assistance, and then you don’t make enough to pay market rate rent, or pay out-of-pocket for all your care needs. And there are a lot of New Yorkers who find themselves in that place, where they don’t qualify for certain benefits, but they just can’t afford to pay the market rate rents that we see here in New York, and so housing is a big one. Housing for folks at every income level, or I would say moderate income and below.
And also providing support for social services, making sure that it’s easy for people to find out how they can be assisted by government. It shouldn’t be so hard for people to find out what they might qualify for, what types of programs and support and resources they would qualify for, and it’s incredibly hard to find out what you qualify for. It’s incredibly difficult to then sometimes sign up or register for that assistance. The process is usually onerous, and oftentimes, especially nowadays, it’s done digitally. And if you think about those who are most vulnerable, they’re the least likely to have access to reliable, consistent Wi-Fi, to devices, smartphones, things of that nature. And so it’s my belief that we just have to make it much easier for people to connect to help.
You are a member of the progressive caucus in the City Council. There are 20 of you. There were 35, we’ll get to that. This week, as we’re speaking, you’re pushing back on the mayor’s budget cuts, demanding more investments in housing, as you were just saying, schools, mental health services. Walk us through who you guys are, and what the caucus is pushing back on, or what is the headline here?
We are a caucus who knows who it is, and that’s why we saw the caucus slim down a little bit. We’re fighting for the things that we know New Yorkers need, and in particular the most vulnerable New Yorkers. And we do so unapologetically. We’re fighting specifically for an end to an austerity budget, and the approach of austerity budgets that really cut from necessary services. We saw recently that folks who were receiving SNAP benefits, or food stamps, weren’t getting them because there weren’t any staff in the agency to provide those services.
And so when you start cutting from agencies, when you start cutting staff, when you start cutting those types of resources that impact everyday New Yorkers, then it’s a real problem. And so this progressive caucus is saying, “We want to see an end to that. Why don’t we cut from a bloated budget like the NYPD?” And that’s certainly not to say that the police would be eliminated tomorrow. The example that I always use is going back to summer of 2020, during the height of the protests and also the height of the pandemic, and we saw a police force who came out for peaceful protests.
Came out swinging.
Came out swinging, and came out swinging with batons, with guns, with tasers, with drones, with SUVs, with bicycles, with shields, helmets, I mean, you name it, they had it. At the exact same time, we had a hospital system, a public hospital system that was begging for PPE. They were begging for ventilators. They were begging for basic resources to literally save lives. And so what this progressive caucus has said is, “Why don’t we examine that? Why don’t we pull some funding from the NYPD and put it in our public hospitals, our public schools, our public housing, the places that we know are struggling and suffering?” Everyday New Yorkers need those resources. We’ve been very clear in that call.
And the budget’s being cut from schools, it’s cutting from libraries, it’s cutting from parks.
Back to that shake up, or slim down that I alluded to from 35 to 20. That was sort of self-selecting. You defined the parameters of what you guys wanted to do, 15 members left the caucus. As you were saying, the thinking is that it clarifies the mission of the caucus, it unifies it. One question I would have is that in being a smaller caucus, is there concern that you may not be as effective, or as strong a bulwark against the mayor, or these budgetary cuts because they’re not as many of you as there were?
It’s still a sizable caucus. Yeah. I would actually say the opposite. I would say because we’re a little bit more clear in our mission, and we’re more closely aligned in our values, it’s easier to get 20 people to agree than it is to get 35 people to agree. And so because of our size now, it’s given us an opportunity to be bold, and to be very clear in our calls against the mayor, and for all the things you just mentioned, for parks, for libraries, for schools. We’re in a really unique position, and I’m excited for the future of this caucus.
I did read one pundit who put it that in some cases the more progressive elements of the caucus might be out of touch with some of the constituents in other parts of the borough, who don’t want to see funding to police cut. Where you have members of the caucus like a Shahana Hanif, or a Lincoln Restler, who represent more affluent neighborhoods, there are other less-affluent neighborhoods that maybe want that police presence, or they welcome some of the safety. I mean, this is obviously a very entrenched, and complicated, and thorny issue.
This is a very nuanced topic. We’re not going to have the opportunity to get into all of the details, but the couple of things I’ll say is one, my district is not wholly affluent, and so certainly I have some affluent neighborhoods within my district, but I also represent five NYCHA developments, and 14,000 NYCHA residents. A lot of people, no matter what socioeconomic background they may come from, feel the same way, which is “Why doesn’t our public housing, our public schools, our public hospitals, our libraries, why don’t they have all of the funding and the resources and the staff that they need?” It’s also a false dichotomy that the choice between safety and accountability. We can have and we should want both public safety and police accountability.
And that’s often a misconception about lower income communities, communities of color. We also have Council members who remain in the progressive caucus that represent some of the lowest income neighborhoods in the city, including in the Bronx, and in other parts of Brooklyn. That’s also because people want better social services. They want better schools for their kids. They want better healthcare services. They want libraries that are open for longer hours. They want to be able to access those benefits and things like that, and they recognize that they should be able to have that and also to feel safe. This isn’t about eliminating the police that folks see on their corners, or eliminating the police force as a whole. What we’re saying is do they need 11 or $12 billion to keep us safe when we have other agencies? For example, the Department for the Aging, or NYC Aging as we call it, has less than one half of 1 percent of our $100 billion budget. The Parks Department has been begging for 1 percent of the city budget.
We had Morgan Monica from Prospect Park discuss that on the podcast recently.
She’s great. That’s all we’re saying. If we had that, and maybe just fewer tasers, SUVs, helicopters, whatever it may be, drones, robot dogs, then maybe our kids can get some textbooks.
I was going to ask what your assessment of Adams so far is, or so far in your experience with him has been, but I think you’ve answered that, but if you want to …
I’ll go with I’ve sort of answered it. If you’re going to force me to, it’s mixed honestly. I mean, there are some things that we have agreed on. He’s signed certainly many of my bills into law. I know he’s been a big advocate around maternal mortality.
That’s our borough president’s cause célèbre.
Yeah, for sure. There’ve definitely been some places that we’ve agreed on. Overall though, we’re not really doing enough for the average New Yorker, I’ll say that. I mean, we’ve had to fight the mayor on funding our schools. We’ve had to fight the mayor on funding our libraries, on funding parks, funding social services, the city agencies that are literally tasked with serving New Yorkers. We’ve had to fight on all of those things, and I just don’t think we should have to fight that hard to get basic services to the New Yorkers who need them the most.
The word progressive has been used so much in the past decade or so that it’s almost lost all meaning. What does progressivism mean in 2023? What do you define that as?
It’s really just being unapologetic and very clear about making sure that the needs of the most vulnerable people are being met. I used to say years ago, progressivism is progress for everyone. It’s not progress for some people, or the most wealthy people. It’s progress for everybody. What’s changed from a few years ago to now is that sort of unyielding, persistent, unapologetic quest, to actually serve the people with the greatest needs.
You’re working on a community led plan to reimagine the Atlantic Avenue corridor. Earlier this week you led a walking tour of the area as a brainstorming process, and getting the public engaged. What are you hearing from your constituents? What do you see as the opportunity there along Atlantic? Opportunity and challenge?
I’m glad that you asked about this. If I may, I want to talk about that and then another project that we’ve got that’s related. But on Atlantic Avenue, I mean it’s treacherous. It’s challenging and scary to cross, especially if you’ve got kids, or an older adult in tow. And what we’re trying to do is plan comprehensively for that corridor. So taking into account not just one block, or one corner, or one piece of the Atlantic Avenue corridor that’s in my district, which runs from Flatbush Avenue up to Bedford Avenue. It’s really thinking holistically about the whole corridor and really saying, “What is it you want to see in this area as far as environmental sustainability is concerned, as far as the types of materials we use in buildings, as far as density and height, as far as the streetscape, and the physical landscape of the corridor?” What is it that folks want to see, and how can we together establish a framework that would then lay the groundwork and the parameters by which anybody who wants to build on Atlantic Avenue, and in some of the nearby side streets, what are the parameters in which they should be building? Is there room for, desire for, more density on some blocks than others?
Aren’t there a lot of projects that have already been green lit that are underway that you can’t really do anything about at this point?
Yeah, and that was the impetus for the rezoning. I mean, it’s two pieces. One, Community Board 8 started a rezoning process or created a rezoning plan for the area called M-CROWN. So that was an already-established plan. They’d been working on it for 10 years, and couldn’t get it over the finish line. And so there was a framework that had already been established. For me, when I came into office, it was really important that we didn’t continue the practice of approving buildings one by one without taking a look at the comprehensive area. Those two things together is what brought this rezoning together. The one thing I wanted to mention, if I may?
Is another initiative that we have underway, which is like participatory budgeting for anybody who might be familiar with participatory budgeting, but it’s for land use. And so it’s essentially a survey that we’ve released, and I’m happy to share the details so that folks can find their way to us and complete the survey. It’s open.
We’ll share the link.
Perfect. So it’s open to anybody and everyone who lives in the district. So if you live in Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Fort Green or Clinton Hill, I strongly encourage you to complete the survey. And essentially what I’m asking folks is. “What do you want to see? When something is being built on your block, on your corner, in your neighborhood, what do you want to see?” Going back to the same things I was talking about for Atlantic Avenue, thinking about streetscape, thinking about building materials, thinking about density and height. Also thinking about commercial use. If it’s going to be a residential building on top with commercial space on the bottom, what types of businesses or uses do you want to see in those spaces?
So often what happens is we see these big, tall luxury buildings go up and we look around and say, “Who approved that? Why did they design it like that? Who said it should be here on this corner, and why can’t I afford to be in there?” So this is an attempt to hear directly from everybody who lives in the district. It’s the first time that anything like this is being done. I’ve pitched it to the speaker of the City Council as a pilot program, and hopefully if this is successful, then you’ll see other districts across the city do the same thing. Because I believe that New Yorkers for too long have been left out of the land use and development space, and we just get these projects that come in, and we’ve really had no say on what they might look like, or what they should look like or the types of services and resources that would be welcomed into a particular community. So this is trying to change that, and I hope everybody will fill out the survey.
You are one of the first ever openly gay Black City Council members. To the extent that you’re willing to go there, I wonder if you can talk about identity, and identity and politics, or where that sits with your role, if at all.
Yeah, absolutely. Always willing to go there, for the record.
So myself and council member Kristin Richardson Jordan, who represents a district in Harlem, we were the first two out gay Black women ever elected to the New York City Council. It’s hard to believe that in 2021, we were the first. And that’s not to say that there weren’t folks who came before me who may have identified, but they may not have been out. They may not have been publicly out or whatever. And for a number of reasons we can all imagine. And so in politics, and you mentioned this earlier too, just the makeup of this current City Council class, we are the most diverse we’ve ever been, the youngest we’ve ever been. We’re majority female for the first time ever. We’ve got Shahana, you mentioned, and she’s the first Muslim woman ever elected to the City Council. We have the first Korean women ever elected to the City Council, so forth and so on. So many firsts.
New Yorkers have really shown us through their voting what they’re ready for and who they want to see as representative. I remember one of the most homophobic experiences I had on the campaign trail was when a woman said to me at a candidate forum, she said, “Well, we’ve never been represented by somebody like you. We’ve never been represented by an out gay person, and how do I know as a straight woman that you’re going to represent my interests?” And I said, “Well, I’ve never been represented by somebody who held any or most of my identities.”
And so it’s an opportunity to really say, “I’m here for everybody. I’m not here to only represent Black people. I’m not here to only represent queer people. I’m not only here to represent women, I’m here to represent everybody.” But my unique perspective and my lived experiences give me the opportunity to not just advocate for the people who have maybe shared some of my lived experiences, but to bring those things to the forefront. To let people know, particularly in government, what it’s like to be a Black queer woman living in New York City, and what the needs of all those different intersecting communities and identities are, and how to talk about those, and help other people talk about those needs, and those communities in a way that maybe they haven’t always been comfortable talking about.
What was it like growing up in the neighborhood where you grew up, when you grew up? Did the coming out moment happen naturally? Was it a challenge? Was it intimidating, or was it just always out?
I would say it was all of the above. I came out right at the end of high school. It was a combination of being outed, and then also coming out, and this sort of hodgepodge of all of those experiences. And it was also at a time when nobody else was coming out. There was one gay teacher in my school who served as a bit of a role model. I remember being in seventh grade and knowing that I was different, but not even having the words or the language to really articulate how I knew I was different. And so, yeah, I came out at the end of high school. It was an exciting experience, a harrowing experience. I think for most people who know me, it wasn’t a surprise, but for others it was. And my mother was super supportive, but also, battling her own, both stereotypes of what it meant to have a gay daughter, and also concerns for how the world would receive her gay daughter.
I was the only child of a single parent, and so she was also dealing with her own disappointment. And that stuff is all totally natural and normal. This was just over 20 years ago now, but at that time, we came out and then expected our parents or communities or whomever it was to just be okay with it, after we had spent so much time doing the work, then we expect people to be okay with it immediately. We don’t really give them the grace and the time to do the work that they need to do. I always understood that it was difficult for my mother, but she embraced it. She was incredibly supportive. It was difficult and challenging in its moments for sure, but she never stopped loving me. She never stopped supporting me, caring for me, and wanting the best for me, and ultimately that’s what it came down to.
Well, in the end, you’re paying it forward. That’s why you got into this line of work. It’s in the bills that you’re pushing for and it comes full circle. It’s lovely. My own mother has got dementia. She’s still with us, but not really in mind, so I’m going through it, so I know what that’s like.
Happy to connect afterwards on anything.
All right. So you have a day off. You don’t have to go to City Hall. What are you doing around Brooklyn? Where are you going? Where are you eating? Who are you seeing?
Oh, I love that question. I’m definitely spending time with my partner, maybe some friends, and probably going on a very long walk. In the summertime it might be a bike ride. It’s funny. Sometimes we’ll go for a long walk in the district, so through many neighborhoods, and then sometimes we’ll leave the district and try to get into a different part of Brooklyn. Sometimes we go down to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We might go over to Bed-Stuy. We might go into PLG or deeper into Crown Heights. Anywhere really that we can get to walking that’s not going to take us five hours to walk to. Brooklyn’s large. You might spend five hours walking somewhere and still be in Brooklyn. There are a lot of great places. One of our favorite places that’s in the neighborhood is Sofreh, which is a Persian restaurant. You know it?
Yeah, yeah. Persian food.
The owner’s amazing. The ambiance is great. The food is delicious. We’ll usually try to go there without a reservation.
Good luck with that.
I know, but we walk in and we’re like, “Can you fit us at the bar? Can you get us in anywhere?” We love to go to Fort Green Park. We also love to go to Prospect Park. Usually when we work out, we go to Prospect Park, and when we’re trying to hang out and sit and chill, we’ll go to Fork Green Park. We’ll pick up some wine on the way, and then just go and sit down and hang out for a bit.
You got to peel the label off.
Yeah. Oh, I guess I shouldn’t say that technically. Well, we get sparkling water too.
Check out this episode of “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast” for more from Hanif. Subscribe and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
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