WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez formally launched his campaign for re-election Thursday, promising to move the uptown agenda forward.
Backed by dozens of boisterous supporters at the United Palace Cathedral, Rodriguez had a joint rally with City Council candidate Mark Levine. The two presented themselves as a united leadership for northern Manhattanites.
"All I've been doing since being elected is to make the case that northern Manhattan hasn't received its fair share for decades," Rodriguez said.
First elected into office in 2009, Rodriguez touted his record standing up for the the rights of the working-class, bringing gas to an Academy Street building that had been without it for years, putting pressure on an absentee landlord on West 183rd Street, and leading a March Downtown in support of Occupy Wall Street.
"This train will not stop," Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez faces a challenge from Miguel Estrella, a Dominican activist who has been endorsed by Jackson.
Levine, who is running for the 7th district seat, offered to help bring together an uptown community that is divided among various racial, religious and economic lines. He promised to fight for affordable housing, reform for the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, and women's reproductive rights.
"We are together as African-Americans, Latinos, whites and Asians, gays and straights, people of all religions and backgrounds." Levine said. "We will fight to make sure that people who work hard and play by the rules can earn an honest living."
Levine is considered by many to be the favorite in a crowded race for the 7th City Council district seat, which is being vacated by term-limited incumbent Robert Jackson. A dozen candidates have filed for the seat thus far, with Levine holding an early edge in fundraising.
Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were among the elected officials to join Rodriguez and Levine in the rally. Fellow uptown legislators state Senator Adriano Espaillat and Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa were present, too.
Quinn, with whom Rodriguez has clashed in the council, said Rodriguez holds her accountable in the council.
"He challenges me as speaker every day so that we can do more for northern Manhattan," she said. "Thank you for sending me Ydanis Rodriguez."