All politics is local, as the old adage goes. For Democrat Alex Bores, the newly sworn-in assemblyman of the city’s 73rd District, it rings true. A child of the Upper East Side, he attended P.S. 6, Wagner Middle School and Hunter College High School, before journeying upstate for college. That’s why Bores, 32, is taking a cue from the concerns of his neighbors and is laser-focused on taking a “whole of government approach” to public safety.
In an interview over coffee and a pastry at Variety Coffee Roasters on 85th Street, Bores said, “People [are] concerned about feeling unsafe walking in the streets and how that’s affected their daily lives.”
He explained that to truly tackle the issue, “we need to look at everything that is on the table [and] that includes funding for traditional public safety resources, including funding for mental health.”
Since 2014, Bores said, the number of psychiatric beds available in the state has sharply declined. According to the New York State Office of Mental Health, 1,849 beds were lost between 2014 and 2022. This has caused people in need to go without treatment, leading to mental health crises — sometimes violent — in public spaces such as the subway system. While these cuts are slowly being reversed, Bores plans to work to “fully restore” these services, and more.
One of Bores’ solutions to the public safety issue is to expand the number of judges in the state. “There’s a huge backlog of cases, which is keeping New Yorkers unsafe, and it’s also leading to horrific delays for, just people’s rights at trial,” he said.
As for the subways, Bores pointed out that while there are security cameras in every station, the city only audits their function every six months. Referencing the mass shooting in a Brooklyn subway last April, which injured 23, and the fact that the cameras at that station were not working at the time, he called the malfunction “inexcusable.”
“They’re cameras, you should know if they’re not working immediately. We need to fix that,” he said.
Hoping to stem the flow of guns into the city, Bores said he is “excited to push back” on any future legislation that would make it easier to obtain a firearm in the state, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned a law allowing the state greater discretion in granting concealed weapons permits.
Bores told Upper East Site that he will also work on the city’s homelessness problem. Remarking on Mayor Eric Adams’ recently announced move to use police to remove unhoused people from the subway system, he said, “It’s unclear to me that the best way to go about doing that is to make NYPD the focus of who is doing that outreach.”
Bores added that the city has been cutting the number of respite sites (“an alternative to hospitalization for people experiencing emotional crises,” according to the city’s website) for years — there were eight in 2019, with four still in operation.
Creating more alternatives to involuntary hospitalization, hiring more social workers, and sending more outreach specialists to interact with those who need help is a priority for the freshman lawmaker.
Bores’ background in tech is also an asset, he believes. He says he is the first elected Democrat in New York with a degree in computer science.
Part of the homelessness problem, Bores believes, is the analog system of assigning supportive housing units to those in need — the process of matching unhoused individuals and families is still done with pen and paper.
As a result, he says, “On any given night, about 10% of those [available units] are empty, which is almost enough to house every person who’s sleeping on the street.” A March investigation by The New York Times had similar findings.
Bores says that with technology, this bottleneck could be eliminated.
While he works to modernize the system, one uncertainty still looms — redistricting. Last year, he fell victim to new boundaries redrawn after the New York Supreme Court found evidence of gerrymandering by state Democrats. As of now, his residence is just two blocks outside the 73rd district.
Of the changes, Bores said, “This is obviously an unusual year, and you have two sets of redistricting back-to-back, which has never happened before.”
In order to maintain his seat in a reelection bid, the Democrat must move into the 73rd District, which he says he plans to do. “As soon as we’re settled with that [redistricting] process, I’ll be moving.”
Growing up on the Upper East Side made Bores want to make government work for his community.
“I mean, this is where I’ve spent almost my entire life. And so the people in the community are my friends, they’re my neighbors, they’re my family.”
Bores wants his constituency to involve themselves in government, and believes that the public should interact with their representatives.
“I would encourage you know, all of your readers to swing by the office, call the office, send an email.”
While the bigger issues may take time, Bores said, “Sometimes there are small issues that could be easy fixes, and no one just knows where to turn.”