Maria Torres-Springer creating excitement among FilAms looking for greater representation in governmentBy Cristina DC Pastor
The high-profile Housing Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer is stoking excitement in the community that would like to see more Filipino Americans seek higher political office. How about a Filipina in the mayor’s office someday?
“As Mayor de Blasio once asked me, why are Filipinos so talented? I replied it’s really only our amazing, talented women in politics,” said Aries Dela Cruz, president of the Filipino American Democratic Club of New York.
“I like her,” said Ledy Almadin, founder of a group called Filipino Americans in Politics. “She has education, life experience and she is in the right path career-wise, and most importantly, her heart is in public service, for the people. I think she could be a great mayor someday.”
Torres-Springer, who is currently the commissioner for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), was one of four women honored recently during the celebration of International Women’s Month at the Philippine Consulate. Prior to this position, she was the president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) since 2015, and before that the commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. She has served all three important positions under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
At a March 15 event honoring her and three other Distinguished Filipino Women – including Broadway actress Ali Ewoldt; journalist Elaine Quijano; and founder of Womensphere Foundation Analisa Balares – Torres-Springer remarked about growing up in a Section 8 Housing for low-income families and what it was like to “make ends meet.”
“It was a struggle,” she said. “I worked a lot during high school in order to carve a path for myself.”
When she decided to go to college on the East Coast, her father “cleared out his bank account” to provide her a small pocket money.
“He gave me a lot of words of wisdom,” said the California-born Torres-Springer of her father Manuel who is from Pampanga. “I also believe he had a lot of confidence that I would be able to in the course of my life, in my career, find ways to make a difference. I’m very lucky to have the parents that I have.”
Her mother, Elsa, comes from Batangas. Maria is one of six siblings.
“The dream of a Filipino American mayor for New York City does live on!” said Dela Cruz when reached by The FilAm. If and when she does aspire for higher office, Torres-Springer would be so qualified. “She has incredible talents and skills to be able to manage HPD and EDC for sure,” he said.
She is very articulate, said Almadin, former president of the Philippine-American Friendship Committee or PAFCOM. “She talks and listens to every citizen, regardless of race and social class. She’s humble enough to be loved by everyone and strong enough to be respected by anyone.”
A community leader who preferred to be unnamed said she finds Torres-Springer “honest and hardworking” with her heart in the right place, but does she have the stomach for dirty-tricks politics and a potentially bruising political campaign?
“As a pure Pinay, is she ready for that? Remember, she has two young daughters,” she posed the question. “If she is, then she should go for it.”