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2016 State Senate and Assembly Candidate Screening Questionnaire

Candidate Name: Gustavo Rivera

Candidate for State Senate District: 33 (Bronx)

Contact Person: Annalicia Finol



  1. If you are an incumbent, are your offices accessible to persons with disabilities? If not, what have you done to rectify the inaccessibility? If you are not an incumbent, If the present offices are inaccessible, do you intent to find an accessible office?


    Our offices are accessible to all individuals with disabilities.


  2. What, if anything, have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights (e.g. accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?


    As a State Senator, I have fought for the rights of disabled over the last 6 years, often times during very difficult budget years in Albany. I have supported the strengthening of rent stabilization laws, the creation of a New York health exchange, and voted against part of the budget and bills that cut funding to transportation, education, health care, OPWDD, OASAS, OMH, DOH, OCFS, SED and other state agencies that serve the developmentally disabled and those with special needs. Going back to 2011, I was a leading voice in the State Senate to extend the so called “millionaire's tax” which brings nearly $5 billion a year to the state coffers and would have offset many of the disastrous cuts of services to the most vulnerable in our society. I also supported Governor' Cuomo's initiative to investigate the abuse that has taken place in our residential homes and welcomed his Program Bill #35 that year which created the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, which is charged with protecting the rights of over 1 million New Yorkers whose care is entrusted to many of the state agencies I mention above. Since then I have continued to work on behalf of the disabled in my district and throughout the state.


  3. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible including providing materials in alternate formats, assistive listening systems, ASL and ensure locations are accessible?




  4. What personal and/or professional experience have you had with people with disabilities?


    Personally, I have lived my entire life with a close member of my family who has special needs. My older brother is autistic, and I've watched how my family, especially my parents, made certain arrangements in our lives to accommodate him and his needs. Because of the care he received, my brother was able to graduate high school and college, and he is gainfully employed in Puerto Rico as a Braille translator. He still lives with my parents and will for the rest of his life. The experience of my brother and my immediate family has opened my eyes to individuals, families and communities who must adjust their lives to those with special needs or disabilities.

    This has extended to my professional life as well. My office has served countless constituents who have a disability or require special needs. From 2003-2006, I was also on the staff of State Senate Democratic Leader David Paterson, now Governor Paterson. I saw firsthand the daily challenges then-Senator Paterson faced as someone who is legally blind. But more importantly, I witnessed the Senator's extraordinary abilities, and the fact that he would refuse to allow his disability to get in the way of his work. Nor would he allow his staff to treat him “differently.” Reasonable accommodations allowed him to perform his duties, and from that experience I learned that a disability shouldn't hold anyone back from being a productive member of society. The fact that Mr. Paterson has served as the highest official in the state is truly an inspiration.


  5. Are you willing to hire and provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?




  6. How will you work with our community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation to protect our rights?


    My voting record on issues affecting the disabled has been impeccable. I've supported and/or co-sponsored legislation that furthers the rights, opportunities, and access of the disabled. In my six years in the Senate, I've become adept at building relationships with other elected officials, including those on the other side of the aisle, while sticking to my principles. I've worked with advocacy groups in the same way. If reelected I will continue to do so.


  7. Would you increase rental/housing subsidies to participants in the Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid waiver program to help people with disabilities can afford to live in the community?




  8. New York State's Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) only provides coverage to seniors. Would you support EPIC expansion to include younger disabled New Yorkers?




  9. The Fair Housing Act requires developers set aside a certain percentage of accessible units for persons with disabilities. Do you favor incorporating these provisions into New York State law so that DHCR can be empowered to enforce these provisions?




  10. Do you support legislation requiring taxis, car services, and all shuttle services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles or otherwise ensure that they have the capacity to serve persons with disabilities statewide?