Fort Greene

In Public Service: Mosley worked behind scenes in politics

March 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Walter Mosley says he and other state lawmakers will not revive the 421-A law unless the State Legislature strengthens rent stabilization laws. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

Assemblymember Walter Mosley is as comfortable walking the halls of the state Legislature in Albany as he is strolling through City Hall in Lower Manhattan. He has had years of experience working in both places.

He served as an aide and a policy adviser at both the city and states levels prior to entering politics by running for the post of Democratic District leader in the 57th Assembly District (AD) a few years ago.

In 1998, he served as a legislative analyst and oversight investigator for the New York City Council. He later worked as a senior consultant to the New York State Assembly and as a senior adviser to the deputy speaker of the state Assembly.

Mosley went on to serve as a Brooklyn political campaign director for former New York City Comptroller William Thompson and former Gov. David Patterson.

His various roles in government gave him valuable insight into the inner workings of politics, he said. “It was a good precursor for me,” he said. “I understood what it took.”

Mosley recently sat down with the Brooklyn Eagle for an exclusive interview in his district office at 55 Hanson Place.

His experiences in politics have given him special knowledge of the value of aides to legislators. As a result, he prides himself on having a positive relationship with his staff. “I’ve been in their shoes. I treat my staff with respect,” he said.

He added that he believes it’s important to serve as an example to his staff.

Mosley enjoys interacting with his constituents. “You are a neighbor. They want to see you,” he said.

He has also worked in the private sector as an educator and a consultant. He taught third grade in a public school. “It helped me become the person that I am,” he said. And he worked for a time as a governmental relations consultant for a private firm.

Mosley, who grew up in Crown Heights and Clinton Hill, comes from a family of teachers. His mother, Marilyn Mosley, taught in public schools for many years.

“I lived in diverse communities. I went to diverse schools,” he said, adding that the schools he attended helped him foster a sense of self-confidence.

Mosley is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and minored in African studies and American history. In 1998, Mr. Mosley received his law degree from Howard University.

Mosley has represented the 57th AD in the state Assembly since 2012.

His AD contains parts of several different neighborhoods, including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. Grand Army Plaza is in his district, as well. The population is diverse and includes Orthodox Jews, African-Americans and hipsters.

“It has always been a great community,” he said.

Mosley’s predecessor in the Assembly was U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries left Albany when he won a congressional seat.

Mosley was an Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “I had heard him speak at the 2004 convention in Boston,” he said, recalling the electrifying speech Obama delivered that put him on the map. Mosley thought the speech was outstanding and that Obama had a big future in politics. He decided right then and there to support him.

With the 2016 Democratic Convention coming this summer, Mosley is running to become a Hillary Clinton delegate.

Mosley is still a district leader. He handles everything from complex political strategies to placing poll workers at poll sites. There will be a lot of work this year, he said, noting that in addition to the general election in November, there will be state and federal primaries.

“The 57th AD has always had a large voter turnout,” he said with pride. In his last election, the district “had the highest voter turnout in the city,” he said.

Housing, homelessness, education and juvenile justice reform are issues he is currently focused on.

The 421-A tax abatement program for New York state property owners, which was introduced in the early 1970s, expired last year, and Mosley said he doesn’t want it brought back unless the state Legislature also revisits the issue of rent regulation.

“The 421-A was made for a different time, when the city and state were trying to encourage housing construction. Things are different now. We can’t bring back 421-A unless we also revisit rent regulations. We need to make the law stronger for tenants. It’s only fair that we do it. New Yorkers are paying for the tax abatement landlords received,” he said.

Rents are way too high in New York City, according to Mosley. “Half of all New Yorkers spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities. Many tenants are on the verge of being destitute. And the problem is tied to the homeless situation,” he told the Eagle.

Many of his constituents live in rent regulated apartments, he said.

The 421-A issue “has come to a headway,” Mosley said.

“To me, 421-A is history,” he said, adding that he and many of his Democratic colleagues won’t entertain a discussion of reviving the law unless the idea of strengthening rent regulation laws is put on the table.

Mosley is a member of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. He also chairs the Subcommittee on Regulated Mortgage Lenders. His other committee assignments include: Banks, Correction, Codes and Education.

He is a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

Mosley said he is deeply concerned about poverty. He is part of a group called Leaders Eradicating All Poverty (LEAP), which works to help families living in poverty in New York state.

“It is disturbing to see families living in poverty. The economy is supposed to be recovering,” he said. “The issues are deep.”

The group is working on many fronts, including developing ideas on how to give parents educational tools to improve the lives of their children and how local officials can better work with agencies to assure that people who need help are getting it. “A holistic approach is needed,” Mosley said.