Democrat candidate for NY State Senate District 21, David Alexis with his family.

Elections this year include the race for the New York State Senate with primaries under 90 days away. In Brooklyn’s District 21, incumbent candidate Kevin Parker is facing a new Democrat challenger: David Alexis.

“First and foremost, I’m a husband to a wife who has sickle-cell disease, which is where I started as an activist to fight on her behalf, I am the father of two little Afro-Latina girls, my family is from Haiti and I wanted to truly become a provider—to provide for my family,” said the 33-year-old candidate and resident of Flatbush.

Alexis said a fresh set of eyes is needed for District 21, as he believes Senator Parker has not delivered “a vision of the future of leadership.”

Alexis claimed he would not take any donations from large corporations, contrary to the incumbent opponent. Part of the sentiments driven by his campaign include the action to “return the 21st District’s State Senate seat to the people of Flatbush,” as stated on his campaign website.

“Myself, my family, my neighbors, don’t have any say on the fact that housing prices have continued to increase,” said Alexis. “This is a community that has been divested of over generations. Millennials aren’t able to have the same pathway to develop themselves—to buy homes and to find the types of jobs that the older generations have.”

While canvassing the community on the campaign trail, Alexis noticed that affordable housing was the chief issue among the residents he spoke to. This is something Alexis said he empathizes with, faced with his own housing insecurities in the past.

“When we [Alexis and his wife] got married in 2014 and applied for an apartment within what we could afford, that same apartment complex, we didn’t hear back until 2021,” said Alexis, who since has fathered two girls, a 5-year-old and the youngest, four. “It was just my wife and I at the time, when we applied for a one-bedroom apartment. Now we have two little ones—seven years later, that wouldn’t be enough.”

Alexis’ goals for housing include passing tenant protections such as the Good Cause Eviction law, amending the state’s 421A law to curb luxury housing developments, and enforcing landlord accountability.

“My goal is to make housing a human right,” he said. “People should be allowed to stay safe and secure in their homes and not be priced out.”

Alexis also has a history of activism working with the New York City DSA, and from experiencing the hardship of working for rideshare services.

“I was immediately exposed to a gig economy that squeezed me for every drop that I was worth,” said Alexis, who first started driving for Uber and Lyft in 2016 to support his growing family.

After several local protests in cohesion with other local rideshare drivers, a utilization rate was enacted in 2018 for NYC rideshare drivers. Despite these gains, Alexis said this still was not enough for him and his fellow drivers. As a result, they pivoted from protest to producing their own rideshare app.

“In taking on Uber, Lyft, and all these other companies, we launched what is now the largest worker cooperative in the country with 6,000 members to date,” said Alexis, referencing Drivers Cooperative, founded in May 2020.

The candidate’s relationship with DSA is a personal one, where he was able to benefit from the resources they provide with childcare.

“Within DSA, there is a focus point on the structural components of the system,” said Alexis. “It is so important to be ruthless against these institutions because they continue to perpetuate the poverty that exists in this city, state and across the country.”

Alexis made the point that he is proud to consider himself a socialist, despite the term’s occasional negative association.

“If we’re talking about whether we can make health care a human right, if we can keep people safe and secure in their homes and how that’s related to these policies that are called socialist, and if fighting for these things is what it means to be a socialist, then call me a socialist.”

Alexis shared his vision of a District 21 led by himself saying, “This would be a very active community that is regularly coming to meetings and town halls, where the latest decisions being made is a regular topic of discussion at bodegas, restaurants and bars and an office being a hotspot for community members,” said Alexis, who hopes for a general increase in community engagement and connection.

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