100 Percent Bronx – Looking Ahead to 2018

Robert Press, columnist, 100 Percent

100 PERCENT: Looking Ahead to 2018

By Robert Press

NY City Hall — Council Chambers

As of January 1st, Melissa Mark-Viverito will no longer be the speaker of the City Council as she will no longer be a member of the City Council. There will be a new speaker chosen from among and by the members who were elected in the 2017 general election. News reports say Councilman Corey Johnson, Manhattan Democrat, will become the next Council Speaker.

If true, Johnson will owe his new post to the Queens and Bronx Democratic County Leaders, Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo of the Bronx. So, what will be the spoils rewarded the Bronx and Queens political machines?

I foresee a major council committee such as the Land Use Committee going to Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson. I also look for a plum committee for Councilman Rafael Salamanca. New/old Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. could wind up with the Aging Committee (again), while the rest of the Bronx delegation either keep their current committee chairs or move up a notch or two in the standings.

As for the other new Bronx councilman, Mark Gjonaj, there is no reading on where he may wind up yet. One thing is for sure though, his name is spelled Gjonaj, not Gjonah, as Councilman Diaz  spells it.

Legislative Vacancies to Fill

As for the two vacant seats in the Bronx now, the 32nd State Senate District and the 80th Assembly District, it will be a game of waiting for a special election to be called or not. Odds are since there is another vacant State Senate seat (Westchester County) also held by a Democrat, there are those who think a special election will be called by the governor. However, there is always the chance of the vacant Westchester State Senate seat going Republican, which is why I do not think a special election will be called.

87th A.D. Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda had announced that he was running for the vacant 32nd State Senate seat before it even became vacant. Sepulveda even did away with his main competition, by securing rival Councilwoman Annabel Palma a position in the de Blasio administration as a Deputy Commissioner of Homeless Services.

Now with a clear path to the 32nd State Senate seat — the only thing that can stop Assemblyman Sepulveda is if no special election is called. Which would create a quandry for Sepulveda: he would have to decide whether to keep his assembly seat or run for the state senate in the September primary. Then again, Sepulveda could call on his friend Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask him to convince Governor Cuomo to call that special election.

As for the 80th Assembly District, there are several local players jockeying for positions. If the former Chief of Staff to ex-assemblyman Gjonaj — currently working as the Bronx liaison to Governor Andrew Cuomo — Nathalia Fernandez runs that race should be over before it starts.

All of the above may happen even before the mid-term Congressional election, and September Bronx Democratic Primary — which is the real election here in the Bronx.

Surprises to look for in the upcoming election season:

  • A possible challenge to Rep. Jose Serrano. After all the Queens Democratic county leader is a congressman, not a state assemblyman.
  • The possible retirement of a long-time Bronx assemblyman and the fight for his seat in the East Bronx.
  • The coming up of a North West Bronx District Leader.
  • Lastly, has there been peace made with a certain State Senator, and it is not the one you are thinking of.


NOTE: With this column The Bronx Chronicle welcomes aboard our newest contributor, Robert Press.

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