Nick Simpson doesn’t mind going the extra mile

By Todd Bookman special to Uptown Flavor

Nick Simpson talks to a Harlem resident during his campaign
Nick Simpson talks to a Harlem resident during his campaign for a City Council seat in District 9

Viola Varfley, a 20-year resident of Harlem, didn’t know where else to turn. A few months ago, the Liberian immigrant’s Social Security benefits had been cut without warning and her bills were mounting.

She had reached out to her elected representatives at the federal, state and local levels for help.

“They are supposed to be there for me,” said Ms. Varfley. “But nobody was even responding to my requests.”

Service to the community is at the heart of politics. From strengthening the economy to improving schools and parks, political leaders have the power to change their communities for the better. Too often, though, leaders at all levels of government seem more concerned with their own careers than with their constituents’ needs.

Enter City Council candidate Nick Simpson. Last Saturday, Mr. Simpson, a Democratic, was reaching out to voters in District 9 when he met Ms. Varfley at her 142nd Street residence. After explaining her struggles with the Social Security office, Mr. Simpson gave Ms. Varfley a flyer with his cell phone number on it.

“I told her to call me if she needed any help,” recalls Mr. Simpson, an affordable housing activist. “Well, she called the next day and took me up on the offer.”

Mr. Simpson and Ms. Varfley took the bus together to the 125th Street Social Security office last Monday morning. Two hours later, the technical error was resolved and Ms. Varfley’s benefits were restored in full.

“I am running for political office because of my dedication to service and the community,” said Mr. Simpson. “While knocking on doors in District 9, I have heard a lot of complaints about leaders not listening. I tell them that I am here to listen, and to help in whatever way I can.”

The Democratic primary for the City Council seat representing District 9 is on September 15th.

Todd Bookman is a native New Yorker with a graduate degree from Columbia focusing on public policy. He was an editor for the school publication, Communique, and now works for a public radio show. You can contact him at


Published by Dee

A lifestyle blogger and digital content creator, Dee Bell has been part of the digital world for over two decades. She is the publisher of She Jaunts - a travel + lifestyle website. #shejaunts

3 replies on “Nick Simpson doesn’t mind going the extra mile”

  1. Anonymous – I hope your overheated rhetoric applies to liberal white folks living in in the Village and the Upper West Side as well. They too spend a lot of time fighting against rent hikes, luxury condos, re-zonings, etc.
    I hope you’re preaching to them about “personal and fiscal responsiblity”.
    Do us all a favor and don’t wait. Move to North Carolina now.

  2. You censored my posting? Awful, no free speech and disagreeing views at UF? What is this, Tehran?

  3. Is this UF endorsing of Nick Simpson? To Landon Dais, Inez Dickens, etc. should UF not come out and place into context what this entry above actually is? (endorsement, PR release, what?).

    On to substance is UF open to a countering view of Nick Simpson? And why he is exactly what Harlem DOES NOT need! Is dissent allowed?

    From Nick Simpon’s web site about himself, “As a renter, I know how frustrating it is to find decent, affordable housing. Luxury high-rises are crowding out the backbone of Harlem and sending rents sky high. My plan to is create ‘Affordable Housing Zones,’ which will limit the development of new luxury housing in low-income neighborhoods and ensure that Harlem grows together.”

    (1) What precisely in definitive language is the “Backbone of Harlem”? The welfare class? Blacks? The Dutch?

    (2) “Affordable Housing Zones”? Is Nick Simpson kidding? This sounds like Robert Moses for crissakes. Have not “Affordable Housing Zones” already been built?…and they are called PROJECTS and they abound in Harlem, whole blocks of them where people are basically ghetto-ized. What precisely in clear language is an “Affordable Housing Zone”? Theoretically where are some candidate proposed “Affordable Housing Zones” in Harlem?

    Nick Simpson like Nellie Baily. Nick Simpson sounds like he wants “The Backbone of Harlem” (whatever the heck that is) to be immune from fiscal responsibility and real life. Basically their argument is to use words like “culture”, and use intangible emotional appeals, and founded on “preserving culture” – get their way denying allowing a city to be and function like a city. That’s why Nick Simpson must be stopped. He has nice credentials, he’s a good guy, he’s out of step with reality.

    You can’t have it both ways folks. Complain about the lack of amenities, the lack of this and that, and then do all you can to prevent 125th St. from upscaling and looking like 14th Street. Nick’s problem is he places quaint hamlet village values and sensibilities onto Manhattan, a City. There are lots of lovely villages along the Hudson, in Vermont, all over New England that have remain fixed in time for 50, and almost 100 years. You will not see big box stores, you will not see fast food joints, no big signs, no loud nightlife, you won’t see the things of a “CITY”.

    Cities are supposed to evolve, continually, and that’s that. Cities “change”, that’s their nature. Cities do not remain fixed in time. Do you realize at any point in the arc of history you can place all the same arguments to stop and curtail development? The Dutch were the “Backbone of Harlem” at one time and they probably had some people argue that it would be terrible to take all the farmland and green fields that once was Harlem and create buildings. Should the Dutch, based on cultural importance, have stopped development of Harlem? Harlem was independent of Manhattan until 1873 ya know,…would it have been valid and proper for the Dutch to seek to halt development of Harlem in 1790? or 1860?

    I am so sick and tired of these people like Nick Simpson, that opt to suspend reality from the situation and realize cities evolve. People like Nick Simpson think for some odd reason that their time and place in history is different than it was from some Dutch person in 1855 that wanted to preserve the farm lands of Harlem and stop development. No Nick Simpon, you and your rallying cry are not that important, not that relevant in the arch of history, and the Nellie Baily’s of the world need to get over themselves and stop thinking (a) they own Harlem, (b) have an entitlement to be immune from change and fiscal reality.

    It’s that simple. The Robert Moses like policies have been bad for Harlem and created generational welfare on a tremendous scale. History in Chicago & Manhattan has shown you cannot socially engineer a desired outcome (by the thousands). Please, don’t point to small scale models of socially engineered housing models, there are Hundreds of Thousands in these NYC Projects.

    How do you decide which Harlem citizens are worthy of benefiting from socially engineered housing? Lottery? Let’s face it…there is no fair way to distribute the few slots that might be available in social engineered housing that does not amount to creating a ghetto or ghetto-ized building. Why preserve and make people immune from fiscal reality and responsibility anyway? Is that a net good?

    If you don’t like honking horns, sirens, lights everywhere, noise, DO NOT LIVE IN A CITY. Guess what…..if you don’t like CHANGE, Evolution of a neighborhood, a block, the whole area, DO NOT LIVE IN A CITY.

    Craziest thing about this whole Nick Simpson rallying point against development? Basically he and his kind, the Nellie Baily crowd, want to preserve the lowest contributors to the public tax base of their place to reap the benefits and enjoy living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. – at a false metric (the real cost of living/housing). Life is not fair, neither are Cities. In real life people are forced to come to terms with fiscal resposibility. I would love to live in Tribeca, the Upper East Side, etc. I am a good decent hardworking person, why can’t I? Oh yes, I am personally responsible, and if I get priced out of Harlem I will move to Riverdale. If I get priced out of Riverdale I will move to North Carolina. That’s life, lots of people have to come to terms with regards to where they dine, dwell, the clothes they wear.

    I will be voting for the City Council person that has the courage to say, “There Are No Sacred Cows” and “No One Is Entitled”, “Consolidating & corralling people in huge mega buildings was a mistake”, “this is America and we live in a free economy and you are subject to the ups and downs of life”. Deal with it! That’s not Nick Simpson.

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