Jelani’s Campaign Goes Interactive

Jelani Mashiriki’s campaign to represent the 35th District on the New York City Council was skillfully poised for action (or, really, interaction) and sent out this email only two days after winding up the grueling fundraising process candidates must go through prior to January Campaign Finance Board filings:

Dear friends,
Thank you!

So many of you contributed generously to my campaign for the 35th City
Council District, showing your commitment to our community, and I
can’t say enough how honored I am by your support.

We have plenty of work ahead of us in the coming months, and it’s your continued support that will allow us bring the message of “Teamwork for Change” to the district.

One of the ways we’ll be communicating is through people’s assemblies,
which are large gatherings of community members where everyone has a
chance to give opinions and make decisions. These assemblies will
allow me to work directly with people like yourself to shape the
campaign and are just one of the ways that we can bring the power of
city government back to the people. I hope you’ll be able to join
your neighbors by attending.

Make sure to check back with the campaign at to
find out about upcoming assemblies and other events.

Thank you again for all of your support,


This is a great idea, and I love the design of the upcoming events not as a chance for Jelani to make speeches, nor as simple Q&A town-hall style campaign stops (where a difficult question can so quickly be pushed aside: “Next? You, in the red shirt…”), but rather as a platform for the public to bring their concerns and ideas into the campaign and to help evolve a collective agenda for the people whom Jelani would represent.

People hear a lot of candidates telling them a lot of prefab positions about what needs to be done, in top-down, “I am a qualified expert and here’s what I will do for you” style. It’s so refreshing to see this campaign turn the tables so that the People are respected as the experts regarding what they need and what ought to be done. The candidate/council member works for the People. Responds to the People. Represents the People without the usual, patronizing, “I know what’s best for this District” air.

I took a quick look this morning at the declared candidates for the 35th and it’s a crowded field. But what truly distinguishes Jelani Mashariki is that, rather than telling us how great he is, he tells us how powerful we are. And it is this very spirit of service and humility that has brought Jelani the celebrity endorsement of hip-hop artist, activist and District resident Talib Kweli, who showed at a recent fundraising event:

I don’t usually get involved in electoral politics, because politicians tend to focus more on keeping their jobs than on the movements they come from. Before meeting Jelani, I hadn’t seen a candidate who is so deeply involved in grassroots movements. I want to come out to support people who share my same interests at the local level because it gives me the opportunity to have a real impact.


About ilyse kazar

Ilyse Kazar is a planeteer. She is also a writer, small-org consultant, solutions architect, community organizer, animal lover, eternal student, and amateur artist.
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