THE BRONX — Rafael Salamanca Jr., a councilman representing part of the South Bronx, is facing a primary challenge this year after winning a special election for his seat in 2016 and appearing on the ballot in two more elections since then.
Salamanca represents Concourse Village, Crotona Park East, East Tremont, Hunts Point, Longwood, Melrose, Morrisania, Port Morris, West Farms, North Brother Island and South Brother Island.
In Tuesday's primary, he is facing off against Helen Foreman-Hines, a retired union leader who he has far out-fund raised.
Although Foreman-Hines has been campaigning and has raised $47,014, including $8,884 private and $38,130 public funds, Salamanca has far eclipsed that, raising $231,475, all from private donors.
He has spent $90,154 to her $33,007, leaving him with $141,321 in his coffers.
Salamanca enjoys support from the Bronx Democratic County Committee, which gave him $2,750, one of 34 donations for that amount. Only about one-third of his monetary donations were for $175 or less.
Although the initial special election to replace Carmen Arroyo attracted more than 10 candidates, Salamanca now faces only one and said that he didn't feel the need to enter the matching program.
As the non-incumbent in the race, Foreman-Hines has a much lower profile and a harder climb. All but three of Foreman-Hines' donations were for $175 or less.
A self-professed "progressive" candidate, she worked for 1199 Service Employee International Union-United Healthcare Workers East (1199SEIU) for 27 years, serving in a number of roles during her time there.
She sits on Community Board 9, is a 43rd Precinct council member and a community volunteer for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Some of her biggest issues are affordable housing and quality health care.
On her campaign website, she calls herself "a detailed, no-nonsense person, who is committed to getting the job done."
Foreman-Hines attempted to run in the previous election for Carmen-Arroyo's seat but she did not make it onto the ballot because she filed her paperwork late.
Salamanca says part of his success in fundraising can be attributed to the fact that he's been forced to stay on the campaign trail since last February.
“Since I won my special election I’ve been non-stop in campaign mode,” he said, noting that this is the fourth race in which he's on the ballot in a year and a half. After winning the special election, he ran in a primary and then in a general election, and he will face challengers in the upcoming general election should he win Tuesday.
Beyond just being an incumbent, he says he's long been a known entity in the community he serves. Some of his biggest issues are advocating for "responsible development," such as mixed-income housing, and securing resources for NYCHA.
“I’ve worked in this community my entire life," he said. “I’m a very visible person. I’m a familiar person in this community.”