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Who is Rubain Dorancy? And Why ‘It Really Matters’ Who We Elect to Public Office

By Brooklyn Reader
In Features
Feb 27th, 2014 6:20 pm
3 Comments
842 Views
Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn's 20th District

Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn’s 20th District

Three candidates have announced their plans to run in the next general election to fill the position of state senator, formerly held by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

They are: District Leader and Attorney Jesse Hamilton; Demetrius Lawrence, vice chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 9 representing most of Crown Heights; and Rubain Dorancy, an attorney and education administrator.

Adams already has put his weight behind Hamilton, and many expect other elected officials will be lock-step in their support of Hamilton as well. And although Lawrence currently can point to few political endorsements, he says he expects a handful of unions to lend its support.

But who is Rubain Dorancy? He has few political ties, and his professional background, at first glance, seems pointed more in the direction of academia than Albany.

Born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Dorancy describes himself as “an educator who is trained in the law.” After college, he taught for two years before enrolling in law school to become a licensed attorney.

Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn's 20th District

Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn’s 20th District

“I wanted to study law to think about how civil rights and education law could be approached in a way to ensure we were adequately addressing the opportunities in the achievement gaps,” said Dorancy.

He also has served as a community school board vice-president, a senior administrator in the NYC Department of Education and chairman of the Haitian American Association for Political Action-PAC (HAAPA-PAC).

In this exclusive interview, Dorancy shares with the Brooklyn Reader his passion for education, his view on the role of elected officials, and why he believes he should be the next state senator of Brooklyn’s 20th district.

BR: You have chosen education as a key centerpiece of your campaign platform. Why?

RD: What we see in the public education system is really just a microcosm of what we see in society. When our children are under-prepared, you have this gap, this level of disengagement that leads to a huge number of societal ills.

So why I’m running, it goes back to public policy. When we have public officials that aren’t making the connection between access to high quality education and employment; the relationship between unemployment and high levels of criminality; the relationship between lack of opportunities and adult development… These are all inter-connected; they are not unrelated.

The violence we see in Brownsville can be traced back to poor education. So, we have to see the inter-connectedness between all of these different factors and begin to think about policymaking and laws through big ideas.

BR: As state senator, which of Adams’s previous policies do you plan to build upon?

RD: I think the role Adams played in the whole piece of the stop-question-and-frisk, being a champion around ensuring that the constitutional rights of men of color were preserved, that was critical. Also his understanding that we can build upon the traction Brooklyn has made in the areas of development while expanding opportunities to the disenfranchised parts of the community.

It’s very easy to encourage development. Brooklyn really has become the next Manhattan. But what we really don’t want is for Brooklyn to become the next Manhattan, where you have abject poverty sitting in the shadows of blinding affluence and people are, like, okay with that…

What we want to think about is, how do we ensure that low-income and middle-income people also get to enjoy the cultural masterpieces of Brooklyn. How do they get to benefit from their commitment to the community over the last 20, 30 years?

The idea that people are being priced out of Brooklyn, that you can barely afford to live in Brooklyn, the specter of hospitals closing, those are the things that require loud advocacy, passionate advocacy. Because again, all of these things are interconnected.

Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn's 20th District

Rubain Dorancy, candidate for State Senator in Brooklyn’s 20th District

BR: As state senator, which public policy issues would you like to address?

RD: Over the last 12 years, there has been a systematic move away from the community–based models as service providers, to these mega organizations. You see this even in education. As a consequence, you have a lot of local minority and women business enterprises that have been shut out of this pipeline. And it’s this pipeline that creates the middle class and creates jobs. We want to think about how we’re expanding the opportunities for qualified vendors.

Public policies have to be designed in a way that we’re looking at not only being the consumers of services, but also the providers of services. How much of the government contracts are being directed towards our community?

Government interventions grant land, set up institutions, stimulate economies. That’s government. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell the government, “We want contracts.” We shouldn’t be ashamed.

But if our elected officials don’t know that, and they think it’s a success just getting services, then we’re spinning our wheels. The power isn’t in getting services. The power is in determining who is delivering those services.

BR: What is your vision for the 20th senatorial district?

RD: I want the 20th senatorial district to become the most literate district in NY. And by that, I mean more than educational literacy. I mean financial literacy: We need to understand the language of finance and money; political literacy: We need to understand the language of the constitution and of civic engagement; social-emotional literacy, how do you cultivate healthy relationships with your counterparts and other cultures?

…These are life skills young people are going to need to know how to navigate in order to move forward, in order to thrive. So, how can we partner with other local institutions to educate people about these kinds of literacies?

BR: You’ve enjoyed a pretty successful and impactful career in education. So why do you now want to run for state senator?

RD: I want to get elected because we can raise the standard of quality of our representation… It really does matter who we elect to office. It really does. Just look at how it impacts the community. What do you think politics is? It’s about who gets what, when they get it and by what means, that’s all! And when our people are electing folks that have never looked at a budget, never managed a budget, never advocated to get money, all you have is… some person in office!

The ones who are in have to understand power and influence. It’s not just “Oh, I’m happy to be here.” I don’t think educational credentials necessarily mean anything. But I do think that it’s important to really understand how laws are made, how different policies interact with each other. As an elected official, you should have the capacity and the orientation to read a lot. To think deeply.

This is a job I’m applying for. So that means look at my past performance, kick my tires. Grill me, ask me what do I believe. And if you look back on my record from even twenty years ago, you’ll see, I’ve been consistent with the things I believe:

If we don’t improve our public school system, we’re going to be talking the same thing 20 years from now. If we don’t expand opportunities to minority vendors, we’re going to continue having the same problems we have right now.

3 Responses to “Who is Rubain Dorancy? And Why ‘It Really Matters’ Who We Elect to Public Office”

  1. Desmond Atkins says:

    Whose universal pre-K funding plan do you prefer?
    Bill deBlasio. Newly elected mayor deBlasio’s plan to fund NYC “universal pre-K” (UPK) is in the best interests of the citizenry of the city and state. It has been proven that early stimulation of children leads to better educational results later in their lives. These better results are then translated into a better workforce, which obviously increases the state fisc. The population of NYC is in excess of 8.1M, and that of NYS 19.6M making NYC at least 41% of the state’s population. The meme of local government being the best government would apply here . DeBlasio was elected by more than 73% of the voting population. The financial benefits of catalyzing early development are striking in view of the fact that 80% of incarcerated felons lack a high school diploma. Nationally, states are trying to find ways to reduce the cost of their penal institutions. This applies to NYS. The average annual cost of incarcerating one person in NYS (in 2010) was more than $60K. The cost in 2011 to incarcerate 59,237 persons statewide was almost $3.6 billion. 22% These costs come from expenditures outside of just the corrections budget. That cost of jailing one person is easily the annual cost of an ivy league education. With globalization rapidly challenging the US workforce, we need to stimulate our human capital to its highest level of productivity. That would start with having the best educated workforce, and reducing the waste of human potential lost to a “crime university”. NY state is already on record as having underfunded NYC. The “Campaign for Fiscal Equity” (CFE) case that was initiated in 1993, and wound its way through state courts for thirteen years. In 2006, the Court of Appeals final ruling was that the state must provide essential resources for public school children. This occurred after (then) Gov. Pataki said after the appellate court struck down the initial finding of the case ruled for the plaintiffs, that the state had no more responsibility than to educate students to an 8th grade level, which would be sufficient for an entry level job, and sufficient for the citizen to pull a voting lever. When the ruling, on re-appeal, was re-instated, Gov. Pataki turned on his words and said that the state of NY has always sought the highest levels of education for all of its citizenry. Currently, much of the sentiments of Pataki’s original statement still linger in the legislature. State Sen. Greg Ball’s bio, on his official state website lists him as “fighting for the elimination of unfunded mandates”. That could include the tragically unfunded mandate of educating students in all (urban) areas, not just NYC. -Desmond A., Brooklyn (the part of my statement that is underlined was what was chosen for broadcast on PBS/NYNOW)

  2. Concerned Constituent says:

    Please take note thatDorancy who NKD and Lambda clubs endorsed does not live nor has lived in the past 20 years in Crown Heights. This is not a smear this is an honest assessment from publicly available information. If you would like more info please contact me. [email protected]. I joined NKD to bring transparency to local elections and stop the crazy shit that Vito and his people have been doing for 40 years. This man lives in Mill Basin with his wife and 3 children, owns his home there and receives a property tax exemption from the school tax portion of his tax bill by claiming the mill basin house as his primary residence. And many other shady facts. He switched his voting address a few weeks before the Nov 2013 general election in order to run for the 20 Senate. He lives in the 19th Senate and the 59th Assembly and has a clear but spotty voting record there. Please do some research. I do not want the person who replaces Eric Adams…a man of incredible integrity with a person who does not wish to reveal where he actually lives.

  3. afbahf,fgajfvajkh says:

    Please take note thatDorancy who NKD and Lambda clubs endorsed does not live nor has lived in the past 20 years in Crown Heights. This is not a smear this is an honest assessment from publicly available information. If you would like more info please contact me. [email protected]. I joined NKD to bring transparency to local elections and stop the crazy shit that Vito and his people have been doing for 40 years. This man lives in Mill Basin with his wife and 3 children, owns his home there and receives a property tax exemption from the school tax portion of his tax bill by claiming the mill basin house as his primary residence. And many other shady facts. He switched his voting address a few weeks before the Nov 2013 general election in order to run for the 20 Senate. He lives in the 19th Senate and the 59th Assembly and has a clear but spotty voting record there. Please do some research. I do not want the person who replaces Eric Adams…a man of incredible integrity with a person who does not wish to reveal where he actually lives.

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