Downtown's State Senate Candidates: Who's Running and What They Say

From left: Vittoria Fariello, Brian Kavanagh and Danyela Souza Egorov are competing in the Aug. 23 Democratic State Senate primary. Kavanagh is defending the seat he has held since 2017. Photos via the New Downtown Democrats online forum

Jul. 13, 2022

Brian Kavanagh, who represents Lower Manhattan in the New York State Senate, is facing two challengers in the upcoming Democratic primary on Aug. 23. He and his opponents for the Senate District 27 seat, Vittoria Fariello and Danyela Souza Egorov, responded to questions during an online forum on July 27 hosted by the New Downtown Democrats. 

Only the following two policy questions were asked of all three candidates. Their responses are summarized below. The entire forum can be viewed here. (Candidate photos are via their Facebook pages.) 

What specifically are your top three priorities for the next year's budget and, generally, how would you approach budgeting as a state senator?

What specifically can you do as a New York State senator to combat the rise in crime in New York City?


Egorov is a founding board chair of a 150-student k-5 Brooklyn public charter school and a co-founder of the New York State Charter Parent Council. She currently serves as vice president of the District 2 Community Education Council and was an outspoken critic of mask mandates for children 5 and under, as well as the de Blasio administration’s efforts to eliminate the city’s gifted programs. Egorov holds a master's degree in public policy.

PRIORITIES AND BUDGETING: “Fifty percent of the state budget is between education and health care and so that’s where my focus would be,” Egorov said. “Making sure that part of the budget is well used and it translates into real services to the people of New York City and our district.” In answer to the question, Egerov mainly focused on education, saying that the state spends more than double the national average on its schools, with funding increases every year for the past decade, “and we still have horrible results,” with an exodus of families leaving the public schools. 

CRIME: Egorov said she wants to see a review of bail reform laws to determine what does and doesn’t work. “New York State is the only state in the country that does not have discretion to put people behind bars if they are deemed a danger to public safety. We need to change that,” she said, adding that new discovery laws also should be reviewed because they are hampering police in gathering evidence needed to prosecute criminals. “The legislature has done nothing to make sure…that we have a functioning DA,”  she said, citing the controversial “Day 1 Memo”  by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that listed crimes he would not prosecute.


Fariello, a partner in the law firm of Balestriere Fariello, has served as a district leader in Lower Manhattan since 2017. She helped lead the effort to change rules that had allowed party bosses to handpick Kavanagh as the successor to State Sen. Daniel Squadron when Squadron abruptly resigned in 2017. (The Manhattan Democratic Committee had overwhelmingly selected Paul Newell.) Fariello is also a leading advocate with the Coalition for a 100% Affordable 5 World Trade Center and demonstrated against a new jail in Chinatown. She was endorsed by the New Downtown Democrats as well as the Downtown Independent Democrats.

PRIORITIES AND BUDGETING: “Housing, housing, housing,” Fariello said. “Everyone is being priced out of our city. Everyone is being pushed out at all different levels and we can’t let this happen. We have to pass legislation that will create true affordable housing and we also have to make sure that we have funds that go to our public housing.” Fariello also said that she supports the New York Health Act and cares about “transparency, oversight and accountability of government agencies, particularly state agencies, to the communities that they serve.”

CRIME: “Unburden our police of taking care of issues that are not theirs to take care of,” Fariello said, noting that “we need to find programs that have actually proven to address the issues [of homelessness and mental illness]. She cited a program that she said pairs mental health professionals with police. “They determine together who’s best to go out.” Police, she added, “need to focus on crimes that are dangerous to us.”


Before being appointed to his current senate seat in 2017, Kavanagh had served for 11 years in the State Assembly. A lawyer by training, he previously worked on the staff of City Councilwoman Gale Brewer and in the Koch and Dinkins administrations. He is the current chair of the Senate Housing Committee and a founder and co-chair of the New York Legislators for Gun Violence Protection. His focus on housing helped lead (as co-sponsor) to the enactment of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act  in 2019 and subsequent Covid-related tenant protections and subsidies. 

PRIORITIES AND BUDGETING: Not surprisingly, Kavanagh said housing is his top priority. He listed a number of housing bills he has worked on, including sponsorship of a Housing Excess Voucher Program modeled after the federal Section 8 program, which he said would house, at a cost of at least $1 billion a year, 200,000 people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes. “We need to have programs that allow all people in our city to have a place to live,” Kavanagh said. “Housing ought to be considered a right.” On health care, he expressed his support for the New York Health Act. In the meantime, he said, “we need to make sure we fund the existing programs that provide services to people who otherwise fall through the gaps in existing programs. For his third priority, Kavanagh said, “we need to do more with funding for childcare.” 

CRIME: “Our police need to be respectful in all their dealings and they also need to be responsive to our concerns that people remain safe,” Kavanagh said. He said his work on gun control legislation played a “big role in making sure we keep gun crime in New York at the very low rate.” While shootings have decreased, Kavanagh did not address the increase in other major crimes in the city.