Bronx Political RoundUp,: Gjonaj Announces Council Run

Council District 13 in Morris Park Race Heats Up

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, as expected, has thrown his hat into the ring in the contest to replace popular but term-limited City Councilman Jimmy Vacca in the Bronx’s 13 District. Gjonaj made his announcement earlier this week. Rep. Joe Crowley, State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto endorsed Gjonaj at his announcement at the Chippewa Democratic Club on Monday.

John Doyle of City Island has raised over $33,386 ($25,544 cash on hand), John C. Marano reports $24,855 ($22,474 COH), and Alex Gomez $4,416 ($3,148 COH).  Two other challengers, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Marjorie Velasquez are late-comers to the race and have yet to file a fundraising report with the NYC Campaign Finance Board. Ms. Velasquez is supported by outgoing Councilman Jimmy Vacca. The Democratic primary election for City Council will be held in September 2017.

The 13th District covers City Island, Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck, and Morris Park.

Morrisania Assemblyman Campaigns For DNC Vice Chair Post

AM Michael BlakeAssemblyman Michael Blake announced that he is running for Democratic National Committee vice chairman. In addition to making his announcement via news release, Blake has set up a website, MichaelBlakeForDNC, to tout his candidacy. There are four DNC vice-chairs, including Rep. Grace Meng of Queens. Rep. Meng is the only Asian American congresswoman from New York. The other vice-chairs are Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary–Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Raymond Buckley, President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and R. T. Rybak, former Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A veteran Democratic operative said it was unlikely the DNC would have two New Yorkers as vice-chairs. One prominent Democrat party official disagreed saying Blake had a good shot because of his national network and work in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the Obama White House. Blake was first elected to the State Assembly in 2014 and re-elected last November. 

Assemblyman Carl Heastie Re-Elected Assembly Speaker

Speaker Carl Heastie was unanimously re-elected as Leader of the Assembly’s Democratic Majority Conference late last month. Heastie was first elected speaker last year when he replaced longtime Speaker Sheldon Silver following Silver’s arrest on corruption charges. Silver was later convicted. Heastie is the first African-American to hold the powerful position.

Former Assembly Candidate Pleads Guilty to Voter Fraud

Hector Ramirez_No Al Fraude-NYDailyNewsLast month, former Democratic district leader Hector Ramirez pleaded guilty to committing voter fraud in a 2014 State Assembly race. Ramirez was sentenced to Conditional Discharge. As condition for his plea, Ramirez will not be permitted to seek public office for the three-year duration of his Conditional Discharge.

During his 2014 run for State Assembly in the Bronx’s 86th District, Ramirez and members of his campaign went door-to-door and tricked voters into signing absentee ballot applications. The Ramirez team took the applications to the Bronx Board of Elections and retrieved ballots for the voters, and they then voted for Ramirez without the voters’ knowledge. Ramirez was initially thought to have won the primary election over Assemblyman Victor Pichardo before a recount was enacted. Pichardo was later certified as the winner.
The case was decided on November 22, 2016 in front of Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett. Ramirez’s co-defendant Ana Cuevas pleaded guilty to Disorderly Conduct. Cuevas was also sentenced to a Conditional Discharge.
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