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Meet Harvey Epstein

With Brian Kavanagh moving to the state Senate, his former seat representing the 74th Assembly District is currently vacant, pending a special election on April 24th.

Harvey was recently kind enough to speak to Solar One over the phone.  Here are the things he’d like you to know about him (remarks have been edited for clarity):

Harvey Epstein got his start in activism early, with a sense of civic-mindedness instilled by his activist parents. His father was active in the teacher’s union, and his mother eventually ran for public office herself.

“When I was in third grade, there was a teacher’s strike, and I stayed on the picket line for two and a half months. I learned a different aspect of education and power, standing up for something! I’ve been active in the neighborhood for a long time, especially in my kids’ schools but also mentoring, and I have a strong interest in promoting diversity and inclusion in public education. I spent 14 years serving as the chair of Community Board 3, and I’m very committed to issues of protecting neighborhoods and affordable housing. Professionally, I’m a public interest lawyer who has done a lot of tenant representation and social justice advocacy. I decided to run because my children are teenagers now, so the timing is good.”

Harvey describes himself as passionate about environmental issues, but he’s particularly big on composting.

“I’ve been composting for years and working with the Lower East Side Ecology Center. I’ve been active in the community garden movement and in school garden projects in the neighborhood- I feel really good about the small sustainable projects that can be managed. I try to focus on the things I can control rather than the things I can’t. I’ve been trying to get help getting solar panels on  the roof of my co-op but it’s hard.” (Harvey, please talk to the Here Comes Solar team about that!)

When it comes to the environmental challenges ahead, preventing another Sandy looms large for this downtown resident.

“We have to be prepared to deal with the implications of climate change. We also have to become much more energy independent, and use more renewable and alternative energy- more wind, more solar, and rely less on the sources that are very detrimental.”

Top priorities for his Assembly term, should he win next month?

“Short term, it’s hard to have huge influence when you start out. But I’d like to focus on bringing people together and strengthen the progressive caucus. Beyond that, affordable housing is a really critical issue across the whole state. I’d also like to work on addressing the imbalances in our criminal justice system and see some education reform that addresses the race and class disparities in our public education system. It’s a critical piece for all of us that affects thousands of New York families.”

Something about himself that voters might be surprised to learn?

“I love music. I used to play the saxophone a lot but I got too busy. And I’m a certified yoga instructor.”

And finally Harvey’s personal motto or philosophy:

“‘Leap and the net will appear.’ I know that’s the opposite of what a lot of people believe- you know, ‘look before you leap.’ But sometimes a leap of faith is just as important.”

Editor’s note: Solar One does not endorse or recommend candidates for elected office and Solar One provides this information solely as an education function for the community.