SOUTH BRONX — Joann Otero, chief of staff for City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, plans to run for her boss' seat in the wake of her surprise announcement that she will resign at the end of the year.
Otero, who has served as Arroyo's chief of staff for 11 years, has not officially announced her candidacy for the special election yet, which would likely take place in February. But Otero's spokesman Alex Diaz confirmed that she had always anticipated running for the seat at the end of Arroyo's official end of term, and sped up the timetable in light of the news.
"This is obviously sooner than what we expected. We weren’t expecting to do this until a year plus from now, so it kind of caught everybody off guard," Diaz said.
"But we respect the council member’s decision," he continued, "and we understand her family concerns, and we look forward to showcasing what Joann Otero can stand for."
Otero's background is in health care and government work, and electing her to fill Arroyo's seat would be a very straightforward changeover, according to Diaz.
"It will be an easy transition for her to come in and continue the work that needs to be done in the district," he said.
Arroyo represents District 17, which covers South Bronx neighborhoods including Hunts Point and Longwood, and her term would have lasted through 2017 if she had served it out in full.
Other rumored candidates for Arroyo's seat include Rafael Salamanca, the district manager of Bronx Community Board 2 who is also president of the 41st Precinct Community Council and Amanda Septimo, district director for Congressman Jose Serrano.
Arroyo was elected to represent District 17 in 2005, and her resignation will take effect on Dec. 31.
She was reelected to the City Council in 2013 despite charges against three of her campaign workers for forging nearly 100 signatures on her primary campaign ballots, including those of celebrities like Derek Jeter and Kate Moss.
Arroyo cited "pressing family needs" in a statement explaining why she was stepping down from the City Council.