On the Record
by Holly Tsang
Jun 23, 2009 | 20515 views | 0 0 comments | 988 988 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Back in the day, Crown Heights was regarded as one of New York City’s most impoverished neighborhoods. These days, however, Mark Winston Griffith believes there’s lots of potential in his native Central Brooklyn.

Griffith, who is running for the City Council’s 36th District seat, has reason to be optimistic. As executive director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a non-partisan public policy think tank, he generates ideas that help policymakers achieve progress in neighborhoods like Crown Heights.

“My kids are the fourth generation in this neighborhood. I love it to death, and I just want to use another way to serve it and to make change,” said Griffith. “Having been around the block a few times, I understand that politics is not the only pathway, but it is an important one.”

His platform includes plans for education improvement, quality food distribution, economic investment in the neighborhood, and the exploration of green initiatives.

“I can’t imagine being more prepared for running for City Council,” said Griffith, who has been working on a grassroots level since 1985.

Griffith was part of the Central Brooklyn Partnership and co-founder of the Central Brooklyn Credit Union, which provided financial services to people of low and moderate income. He was also involved with the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), which fought predatory lending practices and foreclosures. A practicing journalist, he has written hundreds of articles on economics, politics, and community issues.

“I have a vast network that can bring change not only on a local level, but on a citywide level,” said Griffith. “To not run would be to in some ways to squander that experience, that perspective, that expertise.”

Griffith said that he has always found himself in the middle of community building projects and drawn to issues that unite people around common causes, like the community-organizing campaign to form a credit union.

“When you’re electing a City Council person, you’re not just electing someone who can fix potholes,” Griffith said, “but also who has got the smarts, who has got the experience, who has got the vast network, to actually take ideas, to push them along and to create change.”

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