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Voters Will Decide Who Is Going to Fill Long-Vacant Bronx Assembly Seats

By Eddie Small | September 9, 2014 8:39am
 Candidates for the 77th State Assembly District Sherrise Palomino and Verdell Mack at a forum put on by the Food Bank for New York City and DNAinfo.
Candidates for the 77th State Assembly District Sherrise Palomino and Verdell Mack at a forum put on by the Food Bank for New York City and DNAinfo.
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Food Bank for New York City

BRONX — Primaries for the state's 77th and 79th Assembly districts are Tuesday, Sept. 9, featuring contests for two seats, both of which have been vacant for months.

The 77th Assembly District seat, which has been empty since New York City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson joined the City Council in December 2013, serves the southwest Bronx, including the neighborhoods of Highbridge and Mount Eden.

The 79th Assembly District has been vacant since January, when former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was found guilty on federal corruption charges. It serves Morrisania and Melrose.

Here is a look at the candidates for both seats:

District 77

Rev. Verdell Mack: Mack has lived in The Bronx for 42 years and is married to the Rev. Henry Mack Jr., pastor of the Gospel Hill Baptist Church in Morrisania.

Among the "The 10 Commitments" for her candidacy are helping to bring more small businesses to the district, increasing access to quality health care and improving traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway.

"I am running for state Assembly because I have a vision for the future of positive change in lives of the people of the 77th Assembly District and The Bronx at large," she said in an email.

"As the Assembly person of the district, I will work hard to make this vision a reality that will engender academic empowerment, economical development, environmental protection, energy security and social pride/equality."

Mack has also worked as a bank officer at JP Morgan Chase and as a manager and residential coordinator for groups such as Abbott House and the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State.

Sherrise Palomino: Palomino arrived in The Bronx about five years ago to focus on helping at-risk youths avoid HIV and teen pregnancy.

She worked on President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and has also worked with the AIDS Center of Queens County and HERO, a pilot project from the United Nations Association-USA meant to help children who live in Sub-Saharan African communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

Palomino supports increasing investments in small businesses, improving state services for veterans and expanding adult and youth education opportunities in The Bronx.

Latoya Joyner: Joyner is a lawyer for a New York City Civil Court judge, a member of Bronx Community Board 4 and a former community liaison for then-Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, according to her website.

Joyner has vowed to "increase opportunities" for residents of the 77th District and has received the endorsement of Gibson, who served as assemblywoman for the district from June 2009 through December 2013, according to her website.

Carlton Curry: Curry did not respond to a request for comment.

District 79

Michael Blake: Blake is a former Obama aide who worked at the White House on issues including the Affordable Care Act and helping get resources to small, minority- and women-owned businesses.

If elected, he has pledged to push for a $15 minimum wage, a rent freeze and funding for job training programs that are committed to non-violence.

George Alvarez: Alvarez is part of the Bronx group Coalition for a New Future, which has helped low-income residents with business, education and housing expenses, and has served as vice president of Democrats in the Heights, a political club meant to help Upper Manhattan residents participate in local politics.

His first priority in office will be hosting a series of free clinics to help people better understand the city's housing system, and he has promised to host forums helping students figure out how to apply for college and receive financial aid.

Raul Rodriguez: Rodriguez is the former parent coordinator for Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School in the South Bronx. He has stressed the importance of bringing jobs to the neighborhood that pay a living wage and of the need for a new mentality in the borough.

"We're desperately in need of change," he said. "We're desperately in need of a new direction."

Marsha Michael: Michael is a principal law clerk to a New York State Supreme Court justice and has previously worked as a clerk in the civil section of Bronx County Supreme Court. She also spent four years teaching trial advocacy classes to students at I.S. 301, located in the 79th Assembly District.

Michael has vowed to advocate for additional after-school programs, more access to affordable housing and a higher minimum wage.

Frederick Ricks is a comedian, according to his campaign website. He could not be reached for comment.

Lanita Jones could not be reached for comment.

Polls are open Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to the Board of Elections.