RIRA Candidates: Westview

Written by Contributor. Posted in Volume 37, Issue 5 - November 5, 2016

On November 8, all Roosevelt Island residents over age 18, whether a U.S. citizen or not, get to vote on resident leadership for the next two years. Voting takes place at P.S. 217 and (for Octagon residents) at The Octagon, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Bafodé Dramé

Bafodé Dramé

I have served as Westview representative on RIRA for over 12 years. I am experienced.

I am running for a seat on the Roosevelt Island Residents Association Common Council because I feel strongly that something needs to be done to stand up for the rights of long-term Westview tenants. I ask for your support even if you do not live in Westview because I intend to represent not just my building, but the community as a whole. I ask for your vote to help me protect our community’s affordable housing and to help me fight against the gentrification of the Island that threatens to drive out all but the highest earners among us, which would eliminate the diversity that makes us such a special part of the greatest city in the world.

For the last 17 years, I have been proud to call the Island home. In that time, I graduated from college; earned a master’s from Columbia; started an independent Wall Street consulting service; and as a specialist in fraud prevention, I was given a federal grant to conduct policy research at Brookhaven National Laboratory and started making presentations at major international conferences about ways to ensure global security. Protecting communities like ours on Roosevelt Island is what I do all day, every day.

Because I have gotten so much from this community, I have also tried to give back around my many professional commitments. More recently, I overhauled our annual blood drive by partnering with local businesses to offer incentives, increasing participation by more than 50%.

I know it will not be easy to resolve the affordable housing crisis at Westview. With his hands no longer tied by Mitchell-Lama protections, the building owner has tried to force out economically vulnerable residents so he can resell their units at market rates. Our neighbors are being driven from their homes. That is not right, and I cannot stand idly by. If elected, I will work cooperatively and transparently on behalf of all stakeholders, negotiating fair and viable paths to ownership for all residents, especially for those who do not have fat bank accounts. Some claim that gentrification promotes economic opportunities. I say that we live one subway stop away from Manhattan – how much more economic opportunity do we really need?

What we need most is someone to stand up for our less well-to-do neighbors, who are an important part of our vibrant island community. I am standing up to ask for your vote. If elected, I will fight for affordable housing. I will combat gentrification. And I will continue my work to create an eco-friendly, family-friendly Island for all to enjoy. This is my home, you are my neighbors, and I believe you deserve nothing less.

In solidarity, Bafodé Dramé

Irena Durkovic

Irena Durkovic

I’m a 37-year-old registered nurse. I’ve been living on Roosevelt Island since 2009, with my husband Nikola, 6-year-old daughter Nina, and 2-year-old son Djuro. Nina attends PS 217 and is in the first grade.

I’m very happy that my family is living on Roosevelt Island; I think it’s an amazing and involved community. I often have suggestions about how things can be even better and decided that I should get involved with RIRA. I love to listen, I love to talk, I’m very sociable and very fair. I have long-term Island interests at heart, and would appreciate the opportunity to participate in Common Council.

David Lawson

David Lawson

A father of two, I am a Westview resident and have been living on Roosevelt Island since 1998. I have worked for 20 years at the United Nations on political humanitarian and development affairs, defending human rights, women’s rights, and minority rights. I have presided over a UN civil servant organization and worked with various international associations for civil rights. I am currently working as a director for International Development Programs at EngenderHealth, a non-profit organization promoting women’s rights and health, in Manhattan.

I was elected a RIRA Common Council member in 2014 and became the Chair of RIRA’s Planning committee in 2015. The Planning committee has been working on transportation (ferry, bike lanes, automobile traffic restrictions, parking system), environmental protection (air quality control, drinking water quality), infrastructure, the long-term impact of Cornell Tech and growing population dynamics on the Island, and established a constructive dialogue with the RIOC President on those issues.

I run again this year because I believe in the power of community and associative work for public interest. RIRA is an essential forum of dialogue with RIOC and allows for the voice of the Island residents to be heard. I hope more Roosevelt Islanders participate in its work and vote. If elected, I will continue to contribute to RIRA Common Council debates, supporting enhanced communication with Roosevelt Islanders, and lead and facilitate the discussions within the RIRA Planning committee with a focus on environment protection, transportation, infrastructure, well-being and the equitable treatment residents of all conditions and all ages, the future development of our Island, and protection of our wonderful community.

If you have any questions or concerns you would like to share with the RIRA Planning committee, please reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Against this background, I hope you will entrust me with your confidence and your vote on November 8. I encourage you to go out and vote, and to join in RIRA committees; they are open to all Roosevelt Islanders! I thank you.

Erin Feely Nahem

Erin Feely Nahem

I have served as Westview representative on RIRA for over 12 years. I am experienced, respected, and hard working.

As chairperson of the RIRA Public Safety committee, I led the community struggle against the long-term pattern of brutality and unconstitutional policing of the Public Safety Department under Keith Guerra, leading to his resignation and the significant changes and improvements in the Public Safety Department we see today.

As a respected leader of RIRA, I will fight to advance our effectiveness and protect the interests of residents as we enter the next “Cornell” period.

I feel that it is important to continue to nurture a positive working relationship with RIOC and other community leaders, while addressing the residents’ concerns.

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