“My favorite part is the energy,” said Kevin Wolfe, the Senior Government Affairs Manager at the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (the Center) when asked what he liked most about Lobby Day, or Day of Action, in Albany, New York.

“There’s so much activity here. There are so many people who are very passionate about making New York a better place. They have converged to make their voices heard and that’s just infectious. I love that,” he said.

What Lobby Day Looks Like

“Making their voices heard” is an understatement. It’s more like a deafening cacophony of chants, demands, and applause bouncing off of the dramatic archways and intricately carved columns of the Capitol Building. Normally, its hallways are filled with legislators and their aides wearing black and blue suits and click-clacking on the floor with hard-bottomed shoes. Lobby Day is not like Christmas. It doesn’t fall on the same day every year. Different organizations pick different days during the legislative session and just go for it.

On that Lobby Day, May 31, the Capitol Building was full of constituents and they weren’t quietly sitting in waiting rooms. They had banners and signs, and they wore t-shirts with logos and slogans that made it clear who they were and why they were there. Everything from environmental justice to affordable housing to police reform was the order of the day. There was a palpable buzz in the air. It felt like change was inevitable. The people didn’t wait to be empowered—they snatched up their own power and proudly displayed it.

It also happened to be Sneaker Day, so even the elected officials brought out their most prized athletic footwear to round out their tailored suits. Wolfe fit right in with his gray suit and gray sneakers, clutching a branded folder full of what the Center prioritizes. He was going to need comfortable shoes to reach his ambitious goal of talking to 56 legislators that day. His aim was to highlight the Center’s legislative priorities and the priorities for the Center’s Black Homeownership Project.

“The Black Homeownership Project’s Black Housing Agenda is deeply informed by the work and knowledge of coalitions and organizations that have led the advocacy on these issues,” said Sabrina Bazile, Senior Program Manager of the Center’s Black Homeownership Project.

With the legislative session ending on June 8, there was precious little time to convince elected officials to take action and vote on the bills the Center would like to become law.

What’s at Stake

“We want to make sure members of the State Assembly and Senate are aware of the importance of our legislative priorities and that they become supporters,” said Wolfe. “We want to really press our case for the issues of affordable homeownership and expanding opportunities particularly to Black homeowners and prospective Black homeowners. We are looking at low to moderate income homeowners and communities from across the state that are typically disenfranchised and don’t have access to homeownership.”

If the bills don’t pass, the Center (and all of the other groups marching around the Capital on their respective Lobby Days) will have to wait until January when the new legislative session starts and all the calls to action begin anew.

Affordable Homeownership Super Team

Fortunately, Wolfe had back up for Lobby Day in the form of his Center colleagues. There was Program Manager Yvette Chen, Urban Policy Program Associate Sophie Harrington, and Neighborhood Forecasting Program Manager Ariana Shirvani. This reporter is the Communications Manager at the Center and attended Lobby Day in an observational role.

Wolfe gave the team a brief tour of the maze-like government buildings in Albany that are connected by an underground tunnel. If you don’t have a map, you need a guide like Wolfe who knows his way around the place. It’s easy to get lost, which could be a metaphor for politics in general.

Two-Hour Challenge

After ping-ponging between protests and press conferences with a backdrop of late 19th century architecture, Wolfe sat the team down to get the one-pagers in order and to give each person a chance to run through how they would interact with the legislators or their aides. The problem? Time and timing. It was about 12:30 p.m. and the team’s train was scheduled to leave Albany at 3:10 p.m. Factoring in the time to the train station, that left a little more than two hours to get the job done. Adding on to that problem was that this was on the heels of Memorial Day weekend, so a lot of legislators weren’t even in the office. Tick tock.

The Center’s team split up and went to different floors. Sometimes the door-knocking led to brief conversations with staffers, but as it neared 3 p.m., the goal morphed into dropping the information in the mailbox.

The Result

The Center made contact with 30 offices. The contact was a mix of encouraging in-person chats, virtual meetings, and stuffing material in a box. The team ended the day sitting on the steps of the Legislative Office Building overlooking the Capitol Building as they waited on a car service to take them to the train station. A few legislative directors have already followed up as of this publication.

That might seem like a big lift for the outcome, but in this line of work, progress comes in many shapes and sizes.

When asked how he would characterize how the day went, Wolfe said “Very productive and tiring. Satisfied with where we are.”

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I just got $30,850 from my last month of work and did this part time online. y32 I signed up for this 4 months ago and I know how easy it is to make money from this job.

    Register now via the website below……. http://getdollars1.blogspot.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *