Helen Foreman-Hines, political project director at 1199 SEIU, is planning a run for Arroyo's seat, running on what she calls her authentic understanding of the problems Bronxites face on a daily basis.
“I experience every day what the people that live in the community go through,” she said. “I know firsthand what they go through as a single parent, so I understand the issues very well.”
The 64-year-old Foreman-Hines moved to New York in 1970 and worked at Lenox Hill Hospital from then until 1989 as a nurse's aide and clerk before joining up with the Service Employees International Union, she said.
As their political project director, she works on a variety of projects, including voter registration campaigns and political action campaigns. Her most recent project was helping with the NAACP's 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C.
She maintained that her familiarity with politics and political campaigns has prepared her to run as a candidate herself.
“After working on so many, you know your hiccups,” she said. “You know how you can get back in and strategize, and you figure out how you could have done things differently and where you could have done things better.”
If she wins the election for the 17th City Council District, which covers South Bronx neighborhoods like Longwood and Hunts Point, Foreman-Hines would plan to focus on combating the dangers of gentrification and on creating more family housing in The Bronx.
She also stressed the importance of ensuring that students stay in school by having truant officers confront any children they see skipping classes.
“Someone needs to question those kids,” she said. “Why are you out here? What school do you go to? Right now we see kids out walking, and no one says anything.”
Foreman-Hines plans to join an extremely crowded field of candidates vying to replace Arroyo that seems to be growing by the day.
Other people who have expressed interest in taking Arroyo's council seat include her chief of staff Joann Otero, activist and businessman Julio Pabón, Rep. Jose Serrano staffer Amanda Septimo, preacher and businessman Rev. J. Loren Russell and Human Resources Administration Director of Business Development Anthony Sanchez.
Foreman-Hines said the knowledge that she had gained throughout roughly 40 years of public service would help set her apart from the pack.
“I just believe I have pure and simple leadership,” she said.