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What You Need to Know About the Uptown Primaries

By Carolina Pichardo | September 13, 2016 8:49am
 There are two unfilled seats in the state Senate and Assembly and seven candidates.
There are two unfilled seats in the state Senate and Assembly and seven candidates.
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DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The race is on for two big political seats Uptown — in the state Senate and Assembly — as seven candidates, both seasoned and new, vie for the posts.

Here's what you need to know:

The race for the State Senate District 31 seat — there are four candidates running for this seat, which covers the district that runs along the West Side of Manhattan from Chelsea to Washington Heights, Inwood and sections of The Bronx.

The race has heated up since current state Sen. Adriano Espaillat won the Democratic congressional primary in June, setting the stage for him to become the first Dominican-American elected to Congress. Espaillat had held the seat for the past five years.

Here's who is running to replace him:

Marisol Alcantara is a civil rights activist who was tapped by Espaillat as his chosen successor. Alcantara’s experience in the community as a labor and community organizer spans 20 years, and includes working alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Democratic District Leader in Harlem, according to her website. She has not only gotten the support from Uptown officials like Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, but also previous Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Public Advocate Letitia James.

Robert Jackson is the only candidate who has served the community as an elected official, having held a City Council seat for three terms and served as a District Leader of the 71st Assembly District. He also ran for Manhattan borough president in 2013. Jackson, who according to his campaign's Facebook page, supports passage of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Act, and expedited citizenship for undocumented individuals who entered the country as minors, launched his campaign in February.

Micah Lasher may be the newest candidate in the race, but his career in politics spans several years, most recently as Chief of Staff for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Director of State Legislative Affairs for New York City under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to his website. Lasher has come under fire for controversial campaign fliers against Fernando Ferrer during the Democratic mayoral race in 2001. He’s gotten some strong support, however, from Schneiderman, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilman Mark Levine and the political Twitter alter-ego account, The Real RJ Button.

Luis Tejada, a community and tenants' rights activist, is running for the second consecutive time with what he describes as a “candidate for tenants” platform, using his work as the founder and executive director of the Mirabal Sister Cultural and Community Center in Washington Heights.

“Our community has been under attack by landlords,” Tejada told DNAinfo New York. “And a lot of elected officials are partially responsible.”  

State Assembly 72nd District Race

There are three candidates running for the seat: Incumbent Guillermo Linares, Carmen De La Rosa and George Fernandez.

Carmen De La Rosa, who describes herself as a born-and-bred Inwood resident, announced her run mid-year. She has been working as Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez’s chief of staff since 2014, and a year later was elected as the Democratic District Leader for the 72nd Assembly District. She released a policy agenda two weeks ago that highlights her goals for improving education, women’s rights and housing. De La Rosa vowed to fight for tenant rights, after garnering the support of Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres. In addition to her former boss, De La Rosa is also endorsed by Espaillat, Levine and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

George Fernandez, the former Community Board 12 chairman and most recently its treasurer, who stepped down to run for the Assembly, is running a very grassroots campaign with the backing of several labor unions. Fernandez was very vocal late last year when the Community Boards were voting on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s citywide rezoning proposals.

Guillermo Linares, the incumbent, announced he was running for his seat late in the race, after spending the early part of the year campaigning for Rep. Charlie Rangel's Congressional seat. Linares lost the Democratic primary to Espaillat in June. He is backed by 1199 SEIU, UFT, Transport Workers Union Local 100, Citizens Union of the City of New York and several others.