Monique Charlton of Springfield Gardens is looking to bring change to southeast Queens in her bid for office to represent Council District 31.
Charlton has worked as an independent contractor for Counseling in Schools and assistant director of operations for a nonprofit, GreenPrints.
She is the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant, first-generation American and a native New Yorker. She spent much of her youth in Kingston, Jamaica, where she excelled academically, and attended St. John’s University studying government and politics.
Having previously worked as a nanny, and now being a first time mother to her son, Charlton has a keen understanding of the needs and concerns of New York City families, she said. She has spent much of her life volunteering at schools, senior centers and food distribution centers in her community.
“Moms have been running shows for years and moms prove every year that we’re capable of managing and multitasking and rising to the challenge is within our very nature, for the most part,” Charlton said. “I think it’s important for us to have the audacity to run for office.”
Charlton is seeking office to represent Council District 31 which includes the neighborhoods of Averne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
The district is currently represented by Councilman Donovan Richards, who is running to become the next Queens borough president.
Charlton’s platform includes four key main issues: education, housing, jobs and healthcare.
The highlight of Charlton’s professional background is her advancement in childcare and education. Having worked in a public school has given her a lot of insight into some of the current issues with the New York City Department of Education.
“Young learners are being pushed ahead into middle and high school and missing fundamental lessons necessary for academic success — and success beyond school,” Charlton said. “Teachers are overwhelmed with mandates, which restrict their ability to truly teach.”
According to Charlton, the administration is left to juggle impossible requirements and fight for their school’s survival as they compete with charter schools and struggle to stay open with unreasonably low budgets.
In terms of affordable housing and jobs, Charlton said by empowering small businesses with grants and favorable loans, it would increase job availability in the community.
“We need to put firm policies in place that regulate and control rent, both residential and commercial, and encourage home ownership,” Charlton said. “If we raise the poverty line, a lot of people can get the assistance they need. A lot of us aren’t making it and there is no reason we should have hunger here and homelessness.”
As COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted black and brown communities across New York City, Charlton says they need to ensure that more individuals have access to safe, high-quality healthcare.
“I say high-quality healthcare, because there are national and local statistics that show that Black people have higher morbidity rates than every other group,” said Charlton, who would like to see the construction of a new hospital in her district.
And in terms of lowering the Black maternal mortality rate, Charlton said it’s an issue that needs to be addressed — for women stepping to the hospital and giving birth, and being treated fairly and equally.
“That will come with giving mothers the assistance that they need during their pregnancy and four to six months after pregnancy, holding institutions and hospital members and staff accountable,” Charlton said.
Overall, stepping into motherhood has given Charlton even more of a motivation to bring necessary resources to the district for children.
“If I commit my time and energy into making sure the world around my child is ready, then I will not have done so for myself but achieve that for other families as well,” Charlton said. “We should be looking right next to us, we’re all neighbors and we can work together to make this space our own and families we are raising.”