Community activist Amber Adler on Tuesday declared for the Democratic nomination in the New York City Council’s 48th District, running on a platform of improving residents’ quality of life, providing childcare services, and promoting unity.
Adler, 36, a divorced mother known for attending community and political events with her two sons holding colorful homemade posters, announced her candidacy Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Hamodia, for the seat that will be vacated by the term-limited Councilman Chaim Deutsch following the 2021 elections. The district includes portions of Midwood, Gravesend, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay.
Adler will face community activist Steve Saperstein, who has previously run for the seat as a Republican, but declared for the Democratic primary in 2021. The race will likely include several other candidates who will declare in the coming weeks, including Heshy Tischler, a radio personality who has recently gained fame as the “ParkBuster” for forcibly opening Brooklyn playgrounds shuttered due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Primary elections will likely be held in late spring or early summer.
“I’m running to give back to the community that has given to me,” Adler says. “For many years, I experienced many hardships. I was in a car crash, I couldn’t move parts of my body, and I lost my job because I needed to recover from the injuries. I’ve also been a single mother for many years, and I balanced the needs of my kids, and the special needs of my kids – both have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). But the silver lining is that through all of this, I learned how to find resources in my community and navigate them, and I want to provide that help and more to the residents of this community.”
Adler grew up in Ohio and Florida in a non-observant Jewish home, moving to Manhattan in 2002 as an 18-year-old with little religious knowledge. Four years later, she was devastated by the death of a close friend, “and it left me really looking for more answers, and more closure,” she says. “I connected with my local rabbi, and we started speaking about different ways of dealing with loss.” The rabbi was not Orthodox – he described himself as ”traditional at best” – but suggested the grieving woman read “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” by Orthodox Rabbi Maurice Lamm. It was Adler’s first exposure to Orthodoxy.
“I read it,” she recalls, “and there was something that resonated with me, and I kept learning and wanted to read more about this Orthodox lifestyle that I really didn’t know anything about.”
The clergyman gave Adler more Orthodox book recommendations, and she soon decided to start keeping kosher, which paid off in instant physical benefits. “Prior to keeping kosher I had a lot of stomach problems,” she says. “And then about a month after I began fully keeping kosher, the problems I had for years went away completely.”
Adler soon became fully Orthodox, and moved to Brooklyn, first briefly in Crown Heights, then Midwood, where she has lived ever since. She married and had two sons – Shmuel, now 8, and Yaakov, 6 – who have lived with her full time following her divorce several years ago.
She has worked in the private sector – her first job at 20 years old was as executive administrator to the CFO and vice president of a large company – and in nonprofits, including multiple organizations for children with autism.
Adler has never previously had a government job, though she was a paid staffer on Deutsch’s 2017 reelection campaign. But she has always held a deep interest in communal and political events.
“I always wanted to be active in my community,” she says. “It became even more important to me as I got older, started my family, and saw how much of our life really depended on the decisions of others in local government. And this was something I wanted to get involved in. And as I became aware of different local events, I tried to make sure I could go to every single event, so I would know what was going on and I could participate in the conversation.”
As councilwoman, Adler says, her most important issues would be quality of life, childcare, and promoting unity. The first, she says, includes basic issues like “the everyday maintenance for our neighborhood, whether it’s speed bumps that are needed, or tree limbs that are down,” to matters such as affordable housing – she believes in rent-stabilized apartments, and no hikes in property taxes.
Childcare is an issue of crucial importance to the candidate.
“I feel like access to affordable childcare is vital,” says the single mother of two young boys. “It is imperative that we have it set up in a way that helps our families and the future families of the area and across the city. I believe that we should do more to help secure childcare vouchers for children of all school ages. I also wholeheartedly believe in, and will fight to expand, the 3K and universal pre-k programs for our area.”
“I think that that childcare is a stimulus,” she says. “Childcare is not just about babysitting. It’s about stimulating the economy and opening up a stable future for us.”
Adler wants to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program, commonly known as Youth Corps, and will seek to have the city cover the costs of day camp for all children aged 5 to 13.
On the issue of unity, Adler said she learned much while working for an anti-bigotry organization just prior to her City Council run. “While working in the fight against anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry,” she says, “what I’ve learned is how much we can do before it gets to the part where we’re fighting it. We have to provide education to prevent it. I believe in interactive learning. And I believe in inspiring people with interfaith community endeavors. And I believe in funding projects that help fight hate and bigotry and help prevent it.”
Adler on other political questions:
On the issue of sanctity of life: “I believe that people should be able to make decisions for themselves in consultation with their own religious or moral leader, as needed.”
On calls for cutting police funding: “I have a strong commitment to public safety. We should be spending our money wisely, and especially now, when we have a budget shortfall.”
On government oversight of private school curriculum: “I support private schools, and their ability to judge the education they provide.”
Adler believes her experience will translate into being an effective legislator.
“As a Jewish mother,” she says, “I know how to make a budget and stick to a budget, and for our next City Council, that will be the greatest challenge.”