Rodriguez Takes on the Mark-Viverito Political Machine

Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, and NYS Senator Jose Serrano. (NYS Assembly)

Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, and NYS Senator Jose Serrano. (NYS Assembly)

East Harlem Assemblyman Makes Bid to Take on the Mark-Viverito Machine

East Harlem Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez is making the necessary political moves in his bid replace the term-limited City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in the 8th District, which includes East Harlem/El Barrio and the South Bronx. Assemblyman Rodriguez officially entered the race for New York City Council on May 6.

Two weeks later, Rodriguez won the endorsement of his Albany colleague Bronx Democratic county leader Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and his executive committee in the upcoming September 12 primary.

Robert has been a great colleague in Albany and I’ve seen first hand his passion for public service and his dedication to his constituents,” said Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Marcos A. Crespo. “Having his level of experience and intellect, backed by a proven track record, will be a huge benefit to the New York City Council and the residents of the 8th District.”

Also endorsing Rodriguez weer his Albany colleagues, Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, and Senator Jose M. Serrano, whose districts overlap with the 8th City Council District.
“[Robert] brings excellent credentials to the position. He has an MBA from New York University and an undergraduate degree from Yale University. I am confident that he will bring prosperity to his new district,” said Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo.

Council District 8 is one of three Bronx districts (8, 13, 18) that are open due to the city’s term-limits law barring the incumbents from seeking re-election. Rodriguez is the third male state lawmaker that the Bronx Democrats have endorsed for the three vacant council seats. two of which are held by Hispanic women, ie, Mark-Viverito (CD8) and Annabel Palma (CD18), respectively. In CB18, female district leader Marjorie Velazquez was overlooked in favor of Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. Some women’s groups are reportedly feeling dissatisfied.

Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. backs Diane Ayala, who was Speaker Mark-Viverito’s deputy chief of staff and is her anointed successor. In addition to Ayala, the other Council candidates include Daby Carraras, Edward L. Gibbs, Tamika L. Mapp, Edward Santos, and district leader John Ruiz, who is a retired firefighter.

“During my three year tenure in the State Legislature, I have seen Robert Rodriguez in action as he has played a pivotal role in the fight to increase affordable housing units, expand New York’s investment in NYCHA and secure retirement benefits for our seniors and working families,” said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner.

Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez (NYS Assembly)

Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez (NYS Assembly)

Assemblyman Rodriguez also has the support of two of the most powerful political clubs in his home turf of East Harlem/El Barrio: the Arturo Schomburg Democrats and the Nuevo Caribe Democrat club. “When both clubs work together, we deliver,” said an East Harlem political insider.

“Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez brings new energy and new commitment to the people of CD8. We look forward to a progressive leader born and raised in the District. A leader who advocated for funding for NYCHA and the second phase of the 2nd Avenue Subway,” said Kelmy Rivera, vice president of the Nuevo Caribe Democratic Club, who’s running for District Leader this fall.

State Senator Jose Marco Serrano, who represents a Bronx/Manhattan district, said,  “Robert Rodriguez has already demonstrated his ability to be a tremendous leader for his community. I look forward to working with him to deliver for residents of the South Bronx.”

The accusations of frequent missed votes and a DWI arrest in June 2013 are blemishes on Assemblyman Rodriguez’s record in Albany.  According to a police report, Rodriguez  was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after refusing a breathalyzer test just outside of Albany on June 4, 2013. The charge was resolved.

Assemblyman Rodriguez was registered with the NYC Campaign Finance Program (which runs the matching funds program) for an undeclared office. This week, he amended his CFB filing to declare himself a council candidate in CD 8. Rodriguez has raised over $78,000 from 102 donors,  has $56,017 unspent and $7972 in pending matching funds claims. Fifty-five percent of the money raised has come from city residents.

Only Rodriguez and Gibbs are listed on the CFB website as participants in the matching funds program.  Ayala, Carraras, Tamika Mapp, Ruiz and Santos are listed as undeclared participants.

Bronx Democrats have yet to announce a date for a planned rally in support of Assemblyman Rodriguez for Council District 8.

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