Brian 'Bucky' Cunningham is a former Australian rules footballer in the South Australian National Football League, playing for the Port Adelaide. Cunningham was later CEO of Port Magpies in the SANFL, and the Port Adelaide Football Club in the AFL. Making his league debut in 1971, Cunningham played as a rover and small forward throughout his career. In 1979 Cunningham was appointed captain of the Magpies, and captained the club until 1982. Port won 3 premierships in Cunningham's 4 years as captain.
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Thanks for all the questions! If you have anything else you'd like to ask, feel free to send me a message on our website!
My short bio: Born in Flatbush and raised by a single mother, I learned that it takes both a strong family and a caring community to raise a child. Just like many other West Indian families, my Jamaican heritage informed my worldview, instilling in me a strong work ethic while understanding the obstacles faced by immigrants. As a student, I was formally educated at New York City public schools from kindergarten through college, while I learned valuable life lessons through my church and from the community. Inspired by what I saw was the lack of opportunity and the lack of resources within the community, I decided to dedicate my life towards directly bolstering the community and pursuing a mission of social justice. It’s the community’s time to shine and be represented by people who truly understand the issues and will work tirelessly to support them.
I am running for City Council in Brooklyn's 40th District, which includes Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Crown Heights, and Prospect Park South. We are 16 days away from the Democratic Primary. If you are motivated to do so, please come volunteer with our campaign!
I will be here at 8:30 PM EST to take your questions.
My Proof: https://www.cunninghamforcouncil.com/events/2017/8/28/ask-me-anything-on-reddit
A lot of programs are created for children in school what about opportunities for young adults (17-24) that are no longer in school? Also how will to you address the increase of homelessness in young adults in our area?
Prior to running for NYC Council, I spent a great deal of my professional career working at CAMBA and NPower, working to close opportunity gaps for these populations. Most recently, I had the opportunity to work for President Obama's initiative I Am My Brother's Keeper, traveling nationally to do outreach. We must continue to ensure that this segment of the population is given the tools they need to succeed. With 5 million opportunity youth not in school and not working, it's not only a blight to our nation, but a blight to our economy.
I promise to ensure that we have an increase in emergency beds for runaway youth, especially youth in the LGBT community, who are at a higher risk for homelessness. Lastly, we have a lot of work to do with kids aging out of foster care and provide microhousing for them.
Do you plan on desegregating our public schools, most notably PS 152/315, a school surrounded by Victorian Flatbush which nearly none of the local homeowners send their children to?
Yes. As I mentioned in an earlier question, I am very concerned that the NYC school system is one the most segregated in the country, by and large because our housing is also the most segregated in the country. The first step to desegregate our schools is to create a model of 50/30/20 housing. This would provide 50% market rate housing, 30% affordable housing, and 20% low-income housing within the same building, which would create mixed-income communities, instead of stratifying wealth in select areas of the city.
Hi Brian. Why should voters pick you over the incumbent/your competitor(s)? What makes you the best choice?
Thank you for your question. It is an excellent question. I am the only candidate in this race that has both the context, passion, experience, and a plan. Context because I was born and raised in this community, and have watched this neighborhood transform, particularly in the last ten years, with an unaffordable cost of living. Passion, because I literally see my fingerprints all over this district. There is not a single corner where I do not have a fond memory, either as a child or as an adult. Experience, because I have worked as a Special Assistant in the State Legislature, Chief of Staff in the City Council, and nationally with President Obama's I Am My Brother's Keeper alliance. Lastly, I am the only candidate that has not just told us the problem, but proposed real policy solutions. For those reasons, I believe I am the best candidate on Day 1. I am shovel-ready.
This particular example is a school in a relatively good immediate area that is extremely segregated. Any house within the 3 block radius of 152/315 goes for at least $1 million dollars, most going for double that, yet those homeowners aren't sending their kids there. Instead, kids are being bused in from as far away as Church Avenue. To me, this is a school district issue, not a housing issue.
Thank you for you followup. I strongly agree that in our city, we need to desegregate our schools. However, housing and school districts are very much married because of zoned schooling. Many parents who have recently moved into our community have kept their prior address to maintain their kids' opportunity to stay in better school districts. I am committed to ensuring District 17 and 22 schools become blue-ribbon schools by working with the UFT to modernize our curriculum and fighting in the chamber to ensure that budget allocations reach our schools.
Hi Brian. I live in your district and am excited to vote for you on primary day. I read recently that you've also got the Reform nomination, so will be on the general ballot even if you don't win the dem primary. If this happens, what's the best way to get the word out to people about voting Reform? Do you need more door knockers (I've had two at my door already!) and volunteers? Is there something else we can do?
We are very grateful for the support we've received from the Reform Party. It means a lot to us. They were the 2nd organization to endorse us and helped to bolster our campaign in its early phase.
Our district is facing a housing crisis, people can't afford health care, and our criminal justice system is broken.
We're running to take on these issues. Our primary is in 15 days. We're running to win in 15 days.
Our team is out in the community knocking doors every day. We hope to earn the support of residents in the district and take that very seriously. I'm glad to hear that we knocked on your door twice. These next two weeks are the most important for the campaign. It would mean the world to the us if you were able to join us in our efforts to talk to voters.
We are having an event this Wednesday where our supporters will be able to meet with me and learn about different ways to get involved in the campaign.
Here's the link to sign up as a volunteer:
Should New York City hsve more control over its governance from the state? What changes would you implement if it did?
NYC's budget is $86 billion. The state's budget is $140 billion. The city sends more money to Albany than we get back.
The MTA and mayoral control over the schools are two areas I think we should have more control.
If we had control over the MTA, we could make more capital repairs. We could let city students and seniors ride the MTA for free.
The NYC Board of Education is the largest Board of Ed in the country. It is the most segregated, and the opportunity gaps between school districts are distressing and egregious. If the city had more control and oversight, we could level the playing field between districts that have been left behind.
Hi Brian. I have met you a couple times and I do live in your district. I appreciate this question and answer. As a follow up, how do you feel about the increase in vacant lots and empty storefronts that are proliferating in Brooklyn, as landlords hold out for big money tenants? Any ideas on what to do about this?
I support the Warehouse Tax, which essentially places heavy taxes on any landowner who is sitting on any properties, either commercial or residential. We will have more information about this plan on our website this week.
Do you see a problem with mayor DeBlasio's fund-raising practices (i.e. favors and/or access for big donors)?
Do you support community land trusts as a way to create affordable housing?
Thank you for your question. One of the beautiful things about NYC elections are all donations and expenses are made public through the Campaign Finance Board's website. These publicly funded elections create an extra layer of protection against corruption, but certainly, more can and should be done to ensure these "favors" are not violating the public's trust.
I totally support community land trusts and support using city land for 100% low-income and affordable housing. Community stewardship of land is critically important.
As a strategy to help prevent displacement in lower income neighborhoods, would you be willing to band together with other councilmembers who represent areas that aren't rich, and push for major upzonings in richer neighborhoods, so that the rich neighborhoods absorb their fare share of population growth and wealthy newcomers?
I believe that upzoning rich neighborhoods is a matter of fairness and equity. Do you agree?
Shouldn't we put luxury towers in Riverdale and Anadale before we put them on Flatbush Avenue?
It sounds like you're talking about 50/30/20 housing, which I talked about in this comment.
It is critical that we continue to ensure NYC in every neighborhood is mixed with our rich diversity, both racially and economically.
In an area that is heavily gentrified, how do you balance trying to help black owned businesses and residents and not alienating your new, mostly white constituents?
District 40 has always been a mixed, diverse community, both racially and economically. My role as a City Council is to preserve that diversity. We can exist in a community with both newcomers and anchorers. Our small business plan is robust and includes providing tax credits for small businesses who hire four or more employees, the passage of our Medicare for All NYC, and most importantly, landmarking small business that have been here long before gentrification began in our community. What our business plan will do is aid our small businesses and protect our black-owned businesses as well.
Best of luck, Brian. Do you have any indication that your 50/30/20 plan would be financially viable for developers? We would need their buy-in to make it happen. Has anyone run the numbers for you?
The fact is that we're in the middle of a housing crisis in NYC. District 40 has one of the highest rates of eviction in the city. Rents have gone up 80% in our community. It is far more costly to build shelters than to build housing. While Mayor de Blasio's 80/20 plan was a step in the right direction, it is not meeting the needs of our community. We can do better, and we have to do better to end this housing crisis. Having 50% of market-rate housing, particularly with what the market is asking right now, is a boon for developers.
I'm planning on running for city council in my town of under 5000 people. I've lived here several years and many more people here know me than I know them, but I would still be an outsider. Any tips for running a small-scale campaign?
I knock on at least 100 doors myself every day. There are over 100,000 people in my district. I won't be able to speak with every voter in my district. You're lucky. You can. Have as many conversations as you can, about the issues facing your community.
Hi Brian! Thanks for doing this AMA. In the current political climate it's so important to be up to date with local elections all over the country. That being said, I'm not from your district myself but I've been interested in your campaign being that you're a progressive and seem like you could be a breath of fresh air in a political system ruled by the same old people making the same old promises and continuing the same old story of not following through on them. So my question is-- what will you do to follow through on your campaign promises? How can supporters be sure that you will be held accountable and follow through on doing all you can to make good on bringing positive change to Brooklyn's 40th district?
Thank you for your question. Over the last ten years, our current Council member has made a number of promises to members of our community without any account mechanism. If we are so lucky as to win the support of our neighbors, we will host monthly town halls, continue to post via social media, and meet with advocacy groups and thought leaders to push through our bold agenda (including our Medicare for All NYC, at-cost development to increase affordable housing, and turn every public school into a Beacon program).
An obvious concern for any community in selecting their representation is how they plan to spur economic growth. My question is how do you plan to provide growth while protecting your constituency from the potential negative side effects of gentrification?
Thank you for your question. Small businesses are the life of communities. They help employ people from local communities, and as a Council member, my goal is to protect and assist in the growth of our commercial thoroughfares. I believe that small businesses that hire more than four full-time employees should receive tax breaks. In addition, outside of payroll and rent, the highest cost that small businesses incur is health care. We believe our Medicare for All plan will help drive down those costs and expand opportunities for small businesses to expand.
Hey Brian, thanks for taking time to do this. What advice would you give to young progressives interested in getting involved in public service?
My advice would be to focus on a local issue that you are passionate about, to get involved in your community board, precinct council, or some civic organization in the neighborhood. The real work does not begin when you are elected. It begins prior to that, when you are engaged in your local community.
I'm speaking more broadly, about rallying political pressure from middle and low income neighborhoods to force low density, single family rich neighborhoods to upzone.
Historically they are the most effective resistors of upzoning, because of privilege. Trying to get them to accept density is seen as a political third rail in many cities. I'm asking if you're willing to, specifically, push for upzoning rich, politically influential people's single family detached neighborhoods.
I understand and appreciate your question. I am not afraid to take on political third rails. However, in the communities you described, there would have to be a willingness to sell their private properties to upzone their communities. In my experience, lower-income communities are more willing to sell to developers, who typically seek variances to develop. I hope this answers your question.
Thanks for responding! I think obviously the details of the bill are going to be important, but I like that you're actually pushing a new idea rather than just recycling the policies that everyone runs on. If you get elected, do you think you'll run for a higher level position afterwards? I'm always curious if people involved in local politics are running cause they're passionate about the position or if they're just trying to climb the ladder to more power.
That's a very valid question. I am running for City Council because I am born and raised in the community, and have seen a lack of leadership. For that reason, I am running at this time. I would never be so bold to predict that I would not run for another office, but right now, the need is local.
Second question, cause my friend just messaged me this, if you get elected what will you do to make sure you're accountable to your constituents? A common complaint.nationally right now is the lack of town halls by politicians and a lack of real ability to get in direct contact with the person who's representing you
Thanks for your question. As mentioned previously, we are committed to maintaining a high volume of social media updates, in addition to hosting monthly town halls, both in person and via the Internet.
Thanks for all your questions! Feel free to send us any others you might have on our website.
Thanks for doing this AMA! First a general question: I think most redditors are focused on national politics because of how crazy things are in DC. Why'd you choose to get involved in local politics and do you think that people should focus more on local politics than they do?
More specific question: I saw that you've talked about creating a universal healthcare program for NYC. Do you think that that would be financially viable in NYC? And what would a universal healthcare system even look like on a citywide level?
Also, who had the beard first you or James Harden?
Thanks for the question. With everything going on in DC right now, it is more important than ever to elect Democrats into office who are not just going to oppose Trump in rhetoric, but also in policy. That's why we have to pass Medicare for All at the citywide level, to show the nation how to do it right. That's why we have to fight for more affordable housing and protect rent stabilization.
When you vote on the local level, your impact is heard much more loudly. Your vote directly effects the streets, schools, and businesses in your neighborhood. Your vote is much more powerful because it's one out of a few thousand, instead of a few million or 120 million in a presidential election.
NYC has an $86 billion budget, which is the fourth-largest budget anywhere in the country. So the question is not whether or not can we afford it. The question is, are we bold and brave enough, and do we have the political will, to pass a Medicare for All plan?
James Harden has had his longer. But as to who wears it better - I'll let you be the judge of that.