New York, NY—All seven candidates running to succeed Councilman Ben Kallos in District 5 participated in Saturday’s ‘Love Your Neighborhood Day’ organized by the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association. They hit the streets to sweep with broom and upright dust pans in hand.

We asked six of the seven candidates on camera why it was important for them to participate and volunteer.

Tricia Shimamura, whose son sat atop her shoulders, said it means a lot for the neighborhood to come together and particularly come together for the good of the community.

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“Look, this is my home. My son, this is the only home that he’s ever known, so it’s very personal for us. I’ve been a proud member of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood’s Association for years, and we’re really excited about how many people are coming out to help us clean up our neighborhood,” said Shimamura.

Rebecca Lamorte participated in the association’s first-ever E72NA’s clean up in November, handing out PPE and hand sanitizer on the East River Esplanade.

“This is what community cares about, this is what makes our community so great, we come together, we fight for what we care about, and today is about making sure we have a clean neighborhood,” said Lamorte.

Meanwhile, Billy Freeland said he’s running for City Council because community is most important.

“[Events like this] also reveal how important sanitation policy is. Trash is on the street—I always think about that quote from Mayor LaGuardia: ‘there’s no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets,’ I love that quote. We really need a sanitation policy as a city, until then we’re relying so much on the generosity of non-profits and our neighbors to keep our neighborhood clean, it could not be more important,” said Freeland.

Mark Foley, cleaning up the trash along the Esplanade, is the only Republican running in the race.

“Look, the neighborhood is where we live. You don’t get more local than your own neighborhood. And if you don’t have a clean neighborhood, you can almost go back to the Broken Windows theory that you see a pile of dirt somewhere, a pile of rubbish somewhere, it just snowballs after that,” said Foley.

“People have no respect for their neighborhood, or they lose respect. It’s just not a pleasant way to be. It’s such a small, simple thing to do to help keep the streets clean that there’s really no excuse not to. Basic.”

Chris Sosa was joined by several community volunteers along 1st Avenue.

“I think it’s incredibly important for anybody who is running for office to be an active part of the community, and one of the least things we can do is to join in these local clean-up efforts and local beautification efforts and ensure that we are helping to fill some of the gaps, because as we know the local government isn’t necessarily doing its job when it comes to sanitation,” said Sosa.

Holding up his trash picker, he added, “So, what do we do, grab some of these and head out to the street.”

And Julie Menin noted how, in the depths of the pandemic last year, there was a $100 million cut to the Department of Sanitation in the city’s budget.

“And so, this is really a message loud and clear saying communities now are taking charge. We have to say to the mayor [that] this year you’ve got to restore these cuts to Sanitation, over $100 million cut, it’s unacceptable,” said Menin.

“And now it’s up to community groups that are so fantastic, like the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association—we’re here to clean up the streets, we’re here to do the job that quite frankly the city should be doing. But it’s now being left to community groups to take this over.”

We didn’t get a chance to interview District 5 candidate, Kim Moscaritolo, on camera, but her campaign provided the following statement about why it was important for her to volunteer her time for the clean-up.

“I'm always impressed by the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association's commitment to our Upper East Side community. Saturday's Love Your Neighborhood Day was a huge success, with fifty volunteers joining to clean up our streets and parks. I was excited to get my hands dirty and participate. As Council Member, I'll work with this wonderful community organization, and make sure we keep our streets clean with a comprehensive plan for sanitation,” said Moscaritolo.

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