How a Political Insider Spends Her Sundays

Tricia Shimamura spends her days crisscrossing the city as the director of community affairs for Mark Levine, the Manhattan borough president. She helps with everything from street fairs to welcoming new immigrants.

It’s a mission that resonates deeply with Ms. Shimamura, 34, who ran for City Council on the Upper East Side in 2021. She is of Japanese and Puerto Rican heritage and would have been the first person of color to represent her district.

A licensed social worker, Ms. Shimamura, has served as the deputy chief of staff for Carolyn Maloney — a former Democratic congresswoman from New York — and as Columbia University’s director of government affairs. She sits on the boards of several organizations that work with women to develop leadership skills and run for political office.

On Sundays, Ms. Shimamura combines family time with community work, an exhausting and edifying balance. She lives with her husband, Dov Gibor, 44, who is a lawyer, and their two sons, Teddy, 4, and Oliver, 1.

“Teddy recently pointed to a picture of the 2017 Women’s March and said, ‘That’s where my mom works,’” Ms. Shimamura said. She added, “It’s very important to me for my kids to see me work.”

RISE, SHINE, PLAY My boys are my alarm clock on Sundays. They wake me up around 6:30 a.m. I do a quick check of my email. If I know there’s no work emergency that needs my attention, I’m able to focus more on things at home.

I try to let Dov have a few more moments of sleep. I’ll sidestep around the menagerie of Magna-Tiles and toys that are in my boys’ room and find an area of open space. I’ll lie down, using a stuffed animal as a pillow, and let my boys play, closing my eyes for as long as they’ll allow me.

Ms. Shimamura at breakfast with her sons, Ollie and Teddy, and her husband, Dov Gibor. Teddy has a big appetite, she said.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

PANCAKES AND GOSSIP Around 8, we’ll leave for breakfast. The majority of people we see on the streets are in gym clothes, because they’ve just done their workouts, and I envy them; or they are exhausted parents, and I commiserate with them.

We’ll get pancakes at Ella’s Café on East 76th and Second. Teddy has a ferocious appetite. Breakfast is me drinking coffee and sitting back in fear and awe, watching him consume a man-sized meal. Ollie mostly opts for chewing on the table or a napkin.

Nine times out of 10, we will run into a constituent, or a neighbor that we know, and half our breakfast will be getting local neighborhood gossip. It’s wonderful and feels like a small town.

Mark Levine, center, is the Manhattan borough president. Ms. Shimamura said he understood she also had family demands on her time.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

BACK TO WORK I’ll leave breakfast and hook up with my boss. A big part of my job is keeping tabs on the major issues around the entire borough. Our Sunday calendar can be very wide-ranging: a park cleanup, a community resource fair, a press conference can all happen on one day. I’m very lucky to have a partner who can look after our boys while I’m working.

I find it very helpful to do the field work. I can get a sense of what’s going on in the neighborhoods, if there’s follow up that needs to happen. Mark and I will talk about the events, our kids, the local drama. We work very well together.

Most of the time, Mark continues working. He knows I have small children, so around 2 p.m., I get on a CitiBike and ride home.

The boys head outside for a walk and family time.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

FRESH AIR I go straight to cleaning up whatever mess my children have made. Ollie’s starting to eat fruit, so there will be splatters of banana, peach or watermelon on our walls and floor. Dov’s very busy wrangling the boys, so I jump in to try to settle things a bit.

As soon as we’re done, we take them outside again. We have a one-bedroom apartment, so as much as possible we try to be outside.

We’ll take a walk along the East River Esplanade, one of my favorite places in the city, and end up at Carl Schurz Park or John Jay Park. We always run in to friends and neighbors, so it becomes a play date. We stay until the boys are sufficiently exhausted, around 4:30 p.m., then we do the bath-dinner-bed shuffle.

EMPTY THE FRIDGE Our pediatrician isn’t going to like this, but the truth is that we don’t all eat together. My kids are still in the phase of eating simplistic food. Ollie will have purées and yogurt. Teddy will have a veggie burger or pasta with zucchini. He’ll have avocado, chickpeas, something green. We’re lucky enough to be in the Yorkville C.S.A. We pick up on Tuesdays, so on Sunday it’s my goal to empty out the fridge.

After dinner, Dov puts the kids to sleep. It’s this beautiful golden time around 7:30 p.m. I’ll slow down a little bit. I’ll send a few emails and texts, check in on some neighbors.

We eat around 8 p.m. I’ll make farro or quinoa. We’ll have eggs or beans and whatever vegetables are left over from our C.S.A. Dov loves spicy food, as do I. The biggest difference between our food and the boys’ is the amount of jalapeño and red pepper flakes. Dov insists on eating all the ribs of the jalapeño.

Ms. Shimamura rediscovered her love of painting during the coronavirus pandemic.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

PAINTING AND ‘PODCASTS’ After dinner, I paint. During the pandemic, I rediscovered my love of painting. It’s a way to ease my nerves. I paint scenes from my neighborhood: the Esplanade, F.D.R. Drive, the corner I used to campaign on, our dry cleaner. While I paint, I listen to community board recordings. It’s almost like listening to a podcast.

SPELLING BEE AND BED Then Dov and I make a plan for the week: what’s happening, who’s got a dinner, who’s got a meeting. We’re both involved in the Four Freedoms Democratic Club. When we have club meetings, Dov will go in person. I’ll listen from home so I can be with the boys and put them to bed.

We wrap things up around 11 p.m. Before sleeping, we compare New York Times Spelling Bee scores. I’m good, but Dov is exceptional. I’m extremely competitive, so even though I’m not as good, I’m forever optimistic that today will be the day I hit Queen Bee before he does.

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