Schley For Harlem

“A spine

A mind


A behind.”

– Craig Schley

A campaign led with integrity is all Craig Schley could have asked for. Although the numbers did not prove victorious for the candidate of the 70th Assembly in Harlem, there is much to look forward to for Craig Schley. 

Schley insists, “The main thing is to show folks it can be done. Don’t get beat into obscurity. We did not lose; we just didn’t win. What did I lose? I didn’t lose anything. I gained. Look at what we are accomplishing here in this interview. This is what campaigns are supposed to do. Wake up the community’s desires in its resources.” 

If you are curious to Schley’s fervor, it is important to know he was once a firefighter, SCUBA rescuer, lawyer, and Wilhelmina model. Now, that is quite a diverse resume. 

His burning passion to defend Harlem was demonstrated when Schley defended seventy-one small businesses facing eviction due to a rezoning proposal in 2007. To defend so many small businesses may seem impossible; however, Schley did not do this by himself. To defend such a large number of small businesses for free is a testament to Schley’s character. According to Schley, this rezoning proposal which was 1000 pages was a “slow methodical waning” to Harlem’s demise. The problem with gentrification is that it eliminates local businesses. The once “mom and pop” shops or bodegas may be no more if the community is gentrified to full capacity. 

Photo taken by Shawn Antoine II

As Schley attributes the campaigning process as a sense of providing for others, it is important to know that he did this all during the pandemic. To campaign, you must be one amongst the people. The pandemic did not allow campaigning to be as traditional as it once was, but Schley insisted on going from door to door, holding events for his platform, and leading a protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.  That is, Schley capitalized on a very unusual time. 

The political landscape of Harlem is not as ever-changing as Schley would like it to be. The “old guard” as Schley would say is not the future. If you are wondering what the “old guard” is, it directly correlates to the saying “out with the old and in with the new.” To Schley, it becomes a problem when those who were in office for countless numbers of years have not made a major impact on Harlem’s progression; instead, it has only led to Harlem’s downfall. The very people who embody the heart and soul of Harlem are being kicked out at the hands of gentrification while Harlem’s out of touch politicians remain silent. 

Therefore, Schley encourages people to get involved with their local politics. Schley informs the people that “your situation will not change due to your president, but it will change due to your local politicians.” Schley believes getting the youth involved is of critical importance. However, to be “involved” is simply not enough. The youth must act. Schley urges, “The youth may be woke, but they are not out of bed. You can wake up from your sleep but until you get out of bed, you are in the same place you once were.”  This call to action by Schley is nothing more than encouragement for the youth to recognize that change comes with them and that they must be at the forefront leading the way. 

Photo taken by Shawn Antoine II

As for what’s next for Craig Schley, a calculated sense of planning is Schley’s main focus. Schley is determined to implement the “three R’s: regroup, reorganize, and reload.  Each phase encourages the group to come back stronger than ever. Schley and his allies believe that the level of affirming support they received while campaigning during a pandemic will make for an even greater comeback.  He contemplates a quote from the famous Muhammed Ali as he gears for a comeback, “You can’t understand what winning is until you’ve lost.” 

To Schley, this was more than a learning experience because not only did he grow, but he also understands the importance of timing even better as he says,

“Things happen when they are supposed to. Not before or after but right on time.”

4 responses to “Schley For Harlem”

  1. WOW!! What a beautiful and well written piece that Speaks Volume! He’s absolutely right – He didn’t lose he actually WON on so many levels that MATTER!!


  2. Selina Chavis Avatar
    Selina Chavis

    Our future New York Mayor Craig Schley!


  3. Ennis Sigler Avatar
    Ennis Sigler

    Nicely Written! Great subject!!


  4. What an amazing story honored to have helped with the photos!


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