UPPER WEST SIDE — From his work on affordable housing to his longtime community activism, Marc Landis has strived to define himself as a progressive candidate with deep neighborhood ties.
Landis, 50, has lived in the neighborhood for the past 30 years and is among seven candidates running to fill Gale Brewer's District 6 City Council seat.
Unlike some of his more recently declared opponents, Landis has been campaigning for more than a year and a half, joining the race in January 2012, after only Helen Rosenthal and Mel Wymore had thrown in their hats.
Since then he's amassed a hefty list of endorsements — including those of Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Congressmen Jerrold Nadler, as well as the local clubs the Community Free Democrats and Three Parks Democrats.
While Landis has spent the past 14 years as Democratic district leader and served for 12 years on the local community board, he points primarily to his work organizing community members around progressive causes in explaining why he's right for the job.
In his own local law practice and later working for the firm Phillips Nizer LLP, Landis made protecting affordable housing stock and tenants a focus of his work, he said.
"I have sued Fannie Mae and other banks to force them to fund emergency repairs to protect the lives and safety of tenants," he said.
He said he'd also "organized tenant associations to challenge landlords who sought to promote dangerous changes — such as building a high-rise tower on top of an existing building at 201 W. 92nd St. and 200 W. 93rd St."
As a councilman, Landis would continue his legacy of fighting for affordable housing and would advocate for "guaranteed inclusionary zoning," whereby any new building of six or more units would have affordable housing set aside for both low-income and middle-class families, he said.
The ability to effectively organize the community is a skill he's honed — and one that was tested — in his work pushing for campaign finance reform and on behalf of the paid sick-time bill with the group Citizen Action of New York.
In fighting for paid sick-time, Landis led a petition drive to sign up supporters of the legislation, and he also recruited small and locally based businesses and nonprofits to join the coalition created in support of the bill.
He said he's learned "the role a councilmember can really play in a community by organizing and standing up for what’s right and building coalitions, and understanding that there’s not one way to do that — there are a dozen ways."
Landis has deep roots in the community. His wife Judy grew up in Lincoln Towers in the 1960s and '70s, when "a family could get by living in a rent-stabilized apartment living on a teacher’s salary," he said, and the shift away from that affordability has motivated his work.
As part of his "practical progressive" vision, he said that unlike some candidates, he supports "raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more." He said policies like that would help with the social-services demands and housing challenges the neighborhood faces.
He'd also create advisory boards for parents, seniors, tenants and small business owners.
"I want to make sure that we’re hearing from people closest to the neighborhood," he said.