SOUTH BRONX — Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo's opponent in the 2013 election will seek her seat again in the wake of her surprise announcement that she is resigning due to family issues at the end of the year.
Julio Pabón, a 63-year-old South Bronx activist and businessman, ran an unsuccessful campaign against Arroyo when she was vying for her third term two years ago. But he has not let that dissuade him from planning to run for her seat now that it will soon be back up for grabs.
"I have been pacing myself like a long-distance runner ever since 2013," he said. "We said we were going to come back."
Pabón joins an already crowded field of candidates including Arroyo's chief of staff Joann Otero, Rep. Jose Serrano staffer Amanda Septimo, and Human Resources Administration Director of Business Development Anthony Sanchez.
Pabón said his experience would set him apart from the other candidates, stressing that whomever lands Arroyo's council seat will need to be ready to take action right away.
"This can’t be on-the-job training," he said. "Right now, The Bronx is going through an incredible change. This district, with so much land that’s vacant, is the target for so many developers."
Pabón moved to the borough when he was 4 and still lives in the South Bronx, which he says has given him an unparalleled amount of knowledge about the area.
"Manhattan to me is like another country," he said. "I do everything in this community. I walk the streets in this community. I bike in this community. I know this community better than most."
His political experience includes serving as the executive director of Serrano's constituent office when he was in the state Assembly and working as the director of Latino affairs for City Council President Andrew Stein, according to his website.
Pabón is now an activist who runs a few small businesses, including an interpreting firm and a South Bronx bed and breakfast, he said.
"I am not against development, but there has to be development that has to include the community," he said. "You cannot come into this community and try to develop and bypass people that have been living here for so many years."
Arroyo represents the City Council's District 17, which includes neighborhoods like Hunts Point and Longwood, and a special election to replace her would likely occur in February.
Pabón said he was undeterred by the large pool of candidates trying to win Arroyo's seat.
"I believe that if anybody wants to run, let them run," he said. "You know why? Because I believe that when people have competition, then better ideas come about."