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What You Need to Know About the South Bronx's City Council Election

By Eddie Small | February 22, 2016 3:48pm
 Six candidates should be on the ballot tomorrow for a special election to fill a vacant South Bronx City Council seat.
South Bronx City Council Special Election
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What is this election for?

The race will determine who represents District 17 on the City Council, which covers a large portion of the South Bronx, including neighborhoods like Longwood, Hunts Point and Melrose.

Why is it happening in the middle of February?

Former 17th District Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo made a surprise announcement in November that she would resign from her seat on the council because of “pressing family needs,” so her seat has been empty since the end of 2015. Arroyo has since taken a job as vice president of administration at the Acacia Network, a housing company. The job pays $220,000, which is about $70,000 more than she would have made on the City Council after their recent pay raise.

Who is running to replace her?

Lots of people. There are currently six candidates on the ballot for her spot, and there used to be even more. The people who should appear on the ballot tomorrow are:

Rafael Salamanca, district manager of Bronx Community Board 2

Julio Pabón, a South Bronx activist and businessman who ran against Arroyo in the 2013 election

Marlon Molina, a board member of Bronx Community Board 3 and founding member of the Bronx Volunteer Coalition

Joann Otero, Arroyo’s chief of staff while she was on the council

Rev. J. Loren Russell, a Bronx preacher and businessman

George Alvarez, a South Bronx businessman and former state assembly candidate

Nos Quedamos held a candidates’ forum with most of the competitors in late January that was co-sponsored by DNAinfo New York, and you can now watch the entire event online at BronxNet.

What happened to the other candidates?

The Board of Elections kicked five people off of the ballot earlier in February.

Is there a front-runner?

Salamanca is viewed as the most likely victor. He has the endorsement of the Bronx Democratic Committee along with several other prominent local politicians, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

When and where can I vote?

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Feb. 23, and you can look up your polling location on the Board of Elections' website.

How long will the winner hold Arroyo’s old seat?

That depends. The winner is only guaranteed to have the seat until the end of the year, when they are up for reelection. Even after that race, the victor will only hold Arroyo’s seat until the end of her term in 2017, meaning they would have to run again to keep their seat next year. So if the winner of tomorrow’s election decides they like their job enough to keep it, they are likely in for a lot more campaigning going forward.