Arroyo recently made a surprise announcement that she would resign from her seat on the New York City Council at the end of the year due to "pressing family needs," and while Septimo had originally been planning a run for her seat in 2017, when Arroyo's term would have been up, she now intends to start campaigning a few years ahead of schedule.
"It's an expedited process, but there is work to do now, and I’m so happy to just have the opportunity earlier," she said.
Septimo, 24, went to Vanderbilt University and has spent the past three years at Serrano's office, where she was responsible constituent services in the district, which covers virtually all of the South Bronx.
Arroyo represents City Council District 17, which covers South Bronx neighborhoods including Hunts Point, where Septimo is from and where she still lives today.
"There’s something special to me about Hunts Point and about The Bronx and about that district, specifically, that I don’t want to leave," she said. "It is a place that I want to raise my family, and I want to continue that trend."
She hopes to make more people feel as proud of the South Bronx as she does and transform it into a place that fosters success, as opposed to a place where people become successful and hope to get out.
Septimo cited gentrification as a Bronx issue that she would be particularly eager to tackle on the council, as she wants to make sure that the changes coming to the borough do not chase out its current residents.
"I think we saw some interesting things happening in Brooklyn, and there are probably a lot of valuable lessons to be gleaned there," she said. "Make sure that whatever changes happen in The Bronx happen at a rate that is more comfortable, and allow the locals to be a part of it."
She views workforce development as a key factor in making sure that people already living in The Bronx are part of whatever transitions their borough goes through and specifically advocated for programs that help prepare kids in The Bronx for careers in the tech industry.
The special election to replace Arroyo will likely take place in February, and Septimo will face competition for the seat from Arroyo's chief of staff Joann Otero, who also plans to run. Rafael Salamanca, district manager of Bronx Community Board 2 and president of the 41st Precinct Community Council, is a rumored candidate as well.
"I’m an activist at heart," Septimo said. "I think that that activism brings a kind of passion that’s really unrelenting when it comes to making government work the way it's supposed to, and the way it's supposed to is for the people."