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Op-Ed: Councilman explains who he’s voting for in this Tuesday’s presidential primary

BY I. DANEEK MILLER

For the first time in decades, New York plays a significant role in the Democratic Primary, giving us all a unique opportunity to determine our next president.

Before representing Southeast Queens in the City Council, as a labor leader I worked with many elected officials and found in Hillary Clinton a special public servant who demonstrated a true understanding of the needs of our community and I urge you to vote for Clinton to serve us as our next President.

I have seen firsthand her passion for helping those who need it most. The first time she was in the White House she worked with labor and health care advocates to change our health care system. Then-First Lady Clinton led that campaign; without that initial effort, we might not be debating the merits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

She also helped to steer through Congress the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides health coverage to over 8 million children who otherwise would not have any, which served as the model for the Family Health Plus coverage under ACA.

As someone who has raised children as a single parent, I know how hard it can be balancing work and spending time with those who need you most. Recognizing how access to quality child care makes a difference to working families, I conceived and negotiated the first ever provision supporting child-care for municipal workers anywhere in the United States.

Similarly, Mrs. Clinton played a leading role in one of the first pieces of legislation President Bill Clinton signed into law: The Family Medical Leave Act. Her agenda includes 12 weeks guaranteed of paid family leave, with at least two-thirds wage replacement for workers so parents do not have to worry about losing their job when a loved one becomes sick. I have championed these issues my entire professional career and the first law I sponsored in the Council introduced Paid Family Sick Leave.

For too long, the federal government has not invested capital in our country’s infrastructure or mass transit. Mrs. Clinton calls for increase infrastructure investment by $275 billion, plus an additional $25 billion infrastructure bank to support critical improvements. Her plan includes funds to increase public transit and reduce costs for working families.

This coincides with my vision to make it easier for people to travel around the city, including subway and rail fare equity for commuters and free bus to rail transfers, addressing one of the nation’s greatest transportation desserts, Southeast Queens.

With Queens County home to many immigrants, we need a voice in the White House with a clear plan for comprehensive immigration reform. In the Senate, Mrs. Clinton fought for the passage of the DREAM Act and worked to increase immigrant rights. As president, she will expand waivers of the fees to become a citizen, increase access to language programs to help people learn English, and end the three- and 10-year bars to keep families together.

The robust debate we Democrats enjoy in this campaign helps to ensure those struggling to enter the middle class receive the support they need to help improve their quality of life and thus the entire countries well being.

These policies will help our country stay on the right path of both economic growth and social justice we have experienced over the past eight years.

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