Progressiveness may be a commonality among Democratic candidates seeking to succeed Attorney General-elect Letitia James as the city’s public advocate in a special election, but one citizen journalist advocate feels her progressive values are not a gimmick.
Astoria resident Nomiki Konst, a former investigative reporter for The Young Turks and Unity Reform Commission for the DNC, believes her background in political activism and journalism seperates her as the best candidate because she’s independent and not an experienced politician.
Konst said she has been pushing progressive solutions for the majority of her life ever since her first political engagement at the age of six when she organized for a climate change rally in her neighborhood.
At the age of 16, she volunteered in Hillary Clinton‘s campaign for New York State Senator campaign, and she continued her service with former President Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election race as a national co-chair.
Her primary case for public advocate is she is the best candidate because she’s not an entrenched politician and instead will use her knowledge of overseeing the government as a journalist.
For example, while Konst said she happens to like two of the other announced candidates, Brooklyn City Council Members Rafael Espinal and Jumaane Williams, she questions if either man would adequately hold the government accountable, having been in a government position themselves.
“The Public Advocate is there to hold the government accountable, and it requires an independent [review]. How can you put a check on city council if you come from city council? How could you put a check on the mayor if you want to become the mayor?” Konst said.
Konst said she has more than 10 years worth of investigation skills, and her disaffiliation with political figures could lead to more objective-based decision-making, putting New Yorkers first over interest groups and lawmakers.
“It’s not a popularity contest. It’s not ‘who’s the best activist contest.’This is a position about the investigation, and if you’re coming from a political machine, how can we trust you with examining that political machine?,” Konst said.
Konst went on to say that both Espinal and Williams are apart of the Brooklyn political machine, suggesting their decisions are automated or predetermined by exterior factors.
In addition to her journalism background, she was appointed to an independent position within the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission. It was her job to review corruption within the Democratic Party. She scorned the DNC for managing to misplace $1 billion in 2016 after losing the election, later urging for better transparency.
Konst also called out Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) who recently introduced legislation to end the office of public advocate, saying he must have something to hide to end a program that is designated to criticize New York City government.
“We are facing a tremendous danger in our federal government right now in eliminating all checks and balances. We can’t face that in New York,” Konst said. “Councilman Yeger, who comes out of the Bronx machine, doesn’t want government oversight. You might as well ask: ‘Why? Who is he aligned with? Why doesn’t he want anyone examining him?'”
When asked what is the difference between her role as a journalist and public advocate, she said as a public advocate her powers would include demanding official materials that as a journalist can sometimes be hard to obtain. The position would also give her more power to suing individuals and agencies, she said.