Bronx Political Buzz: Ayala Appears as Only Woman to Win

After taking a summer hiatus, The Bronx Chronicle’s Political Buzz column is back.

Only One of Three Women Candidates Emerged Victorious

Bronx County Democrats took one on the chin as it appears the organization failed to deliver the Bronx portion of Council District 8 to their pick El Barrio Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez. By midnight last Tuesday, Bronxite Diana Ayala (and handpicked successor to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito) held a 122-vote lead over Rodriguez. Newcomer Randy Abreu was the only candidate endorsed by The Bronx Chronicle to lose last Tuesday. If her lead holds up, Ms. Ayala appears to be the only woman candidate to break through in a race against an incumbent male state legislator. East Bronx district leader Marjorie Velazquez fell by four percentage votes to Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj in a heated and expensive council race. In District 18, Amanda Farias surprised everyone with a strong second-place finish to state Sen. Ruben Diaz (see results below).

Over the weekend, Diana Ayala’s lead over Assemblyman Rodriguez fell to a 101-votes after a recanvass, which included 8 EDs not counted on Tuesday night. There are two data sticks containing vote totals. One is tallied on election night and turned over to the NYPD for transmission to the Board of Elections. The other data stick remains with the voting machine scanner and is retrieved by the BOE when the VMs are returned to the borough BOE for the recanvass.

To be valid absentee ballots must be postmarked by September 11 and delivered to the BOE by today, September 18. Valid absentee ballots along with affidavit and emergency ballots will be tallied this week beginning on Wednesday to determine the official results of last week’s primary elections.

City Council Primary Results Wrap-up

The primary elections were a low turnout affairs in the Bronx as fewer than 20 percent of enrolled Democrats showed up at the polls. Even the marquee match-ups featuring well-known veteran legislators, multi-candidate fields and nearly $1.7 million in campaign spending in Council Districts 13 and 18 failed to gin up turnout.

Morris Park Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj pulled out under 40 percent of the vote as he eeked past district leader Marjorie Velazquez by 4 points (38%-34%) despite spending a near-record $750,000 for a council seat. Velazquez, who was criticized for seeking to disqualify other Latino/Hispanic candidates who filed petition signatures, was hurt by the presence of Victor Ortiz, who got nearly 5 percent of the vote on primary night.

Over in the 18th Council District, Sen. Ruben Diaz won 41.92 percent of the vote. Amanda Farias, who has worked for Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, came in second place with 20.77 percent of the vote.

Borough President Diaz easily romped over former ally Camella Price and Avery Selkridge. Over in the West Bronx, CM Fernando Cabrera (CD 14) is on his way towards a third and final term as he won handily over newcomers Randy Abreu and Felix Perdomo. Co-op City’s CM Andy King (CD 12) also rolled over two challengers to an easy victory with 68 percent of the vote. Freshman Councilman Rafael Salamanca (CD 17) was victorious in his fourth election in eighteen months as he beat Helen Hines (again) by a 3-1 margin.

Beginning this week, the Bronx Board of Elections begins its recanvass process to obtain official tallies for the BOE commissioners to certify. So, the results reported above and on primary night will change.

Sen. Diaz Feels Vindicated

Shortly after deplaning from his flight from Puerto Rico, Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. spoke to The Bronx Chronicle about his win last Tuesday. “I feel heavily vindicated by the vote in the primary. The results show that I beat one person 2-1 (Amanda Farias), another 3-1 (Elvin Garcia) and another 5-1 (William Moore),” said Diaz. All three had been particularly harsh in their denunciation of Sen. Diaz’s record and stances on social policies. Gay activists seemed eager to see him defeated because of his past opposition to same-sex marriage and his intolerance during the AIDS crisis of 30 years ago. He has long since apologized for his past intolerant statements. Diaz said he looks forward to doing great work in the City Council.

Diaz still seems to be smarting from the sting of Assemblyman Michael Blake’s denunciation and demand that his campaign refund of a $1000 donation after gay activists pressured the Morrisania legislator to rescind his endorsement of his colleague. Asked if he would be turning the other cheek politically and endorsing Blake for re-election next year, Diaz let out a hearty laugh.

“Regarding Michael Blake, that’s to be continued,” he said. “People are saying that I’m supporting a fellow named George Alvarez. People are saying, not me. I’m not saying that I am. But I’m not denying it, either,” chortled Diaz. Well now.

New WAM chair AM Helene Weinstein (l) and Speaker Carl Heastie (r) will lead next year's budget negotiations with Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans.

New WAM chair AM Helene Weinstein (l) and Speaker Carl Heastie (r) will lead next year’s budget negotiations with Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans.

Assembly Speaker Heastie Names 1st Woman Ways & Means Chair

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has tapped the first woman to serve as chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, selecting Brooklyn’s Helene Weinstein (41st AD) to succeed retired Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr., of Manhattan, in the post. . “Her vast experience in the People’s House and extensive knowledge of the state budget process will guide the Assembly Majority as we continue to pursue our Families First agenda,” said Heastie.

Now, the chairs of the budget oversight committees of both the Senate and Assembly are now led by women. Last year, the Senate Republicans broke the glass ceiling when they elevated Sen. Cathy Young, of Olean, to chair the Finance Committee. The Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over all legislation introduced in the Assembly that would impact spending or revenues at the State or local level.

Congressman Serrano Renames Morris Heights Post Office for Tuskegee Airman Dr. Roscoe Brown

Tomorrow, Congressman Serrano will be joined by local elected officials for the renaming ceremony of the Morris Heights Post Office in honor of Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., in order to commemorate the life and legacy of a war hero, civil rights, and community leader. Rep. Serrano introduced and passed legislation in the House of Representatives and supported by the entire New York Congressional Delegation renaming the post office in honor of the famed Tuskegee Airman. Morris Heights Post Office is located at 2024 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

Bronx GOP Leaders To Host Rally & Open Nicole Malliotakis Campaign HQ

On Saturday, September 23, Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis will be at the headquarters of the Bronx Republican County Committee for a rally and to open a joint campaign office with CD 13 GOP candidate John Cerini. After they open the headquarters, Malliotakis and Cerini will campaign in the council district. “People are excited about the mayor’s race and Cerini’s race in the 13th,” said Bronx GOP chairman Michael Rendino. The Bronx Republican chairman says that the 13th is one of three potentially competitive general election races in the city.

Mayor de Blasio Goes Full Communist Manifesto to NY Mag

billdeblasiomorningjoevidpicDays before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s resounding primary election victory, New York magazine published a revealing interview with Hizzoner. De Blasio touted his first-term record and progressive policy agenda with the magazine’s Chris Smith. Predictably, the article addressed his tortured relationship with Gov. Cuomo, the continued drop in crime, and the pay-to-play allegations that have characterized the mayor’s administration. In discussing his efforts to reduce income inequality, Mayor de Blasio went full community manifesto in describing what he sensed as a “socialistic impulse” among New Yorkers when it comes to housing affordability and development. Like any good Bolshevik, de Blasio senses a call for centralized planning in accordance to the needs of the people. He sneered that “hundreds of years of elevated property rights and wealth” stands in the way of his socialist vision.

“Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents. That’s a world I’d love to see…,” said Comrade, er, Mayor de Blasio. Enough said, folks.

Rep. Espaillat Hosts ‘Moment of Truth’ on Immigration Forum

On Tuesday, September 18,  Congressman Adriano Espaillat hosts an immigration forum, Moment of Truth Where America Stands on Immigration at the Hispanic Federation, 55 Exchange Place in Manhattan. Other Members of Congress attending included Joe Crowley, Yvette Clark, Luis Gutierrez and Nydia Velazquez.

Where In The World Is Assemblyman Michael Blake?

On Monday afternoon, Morrisania’s peripatetic state legislator was a panelist at The Concordia Summit’s Strategic Dialogue: The Future of Workforce at the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd Street in Manhattan. Concordia is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that builds meaningful partnerships for positive social impact.

Over the weekend, Blake was in Seattle, Washington, where he participated in several events, including co-keynoting the Eastside​ ​Democrats​ ​Dinner with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. On Sunday, Blake was scheduled to preach at Truevine of Holiness MBC Church​ in Seattle. A series of weekend tweets documented the Assemblyman’s sojourn to Washington State.

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