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District 18
Soundview, Parkchester, Castle Hill
 

  DISTRICT FEATURES

Campaign 2003

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The Candidates
Campaign Contributors
Feature Story
Candidate Biographies
Campaign Trail

THE CANDIDATES


Pedro Espada Jr. (New Bronx Alliance)
Hilda Hernandez (People Unity Party)
Kenneth Padilla (Community First)


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CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS
ACCORDING TO THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD

Contributors to Pedro Espada Jr.
Hilda Hernandez has not filed
Kenneth Padilla has not filed



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FEATURE STORY

LOOKING FOR A LEADER

In recent years, the Soundview and Parkchester area of Bronx has been under-represented in the New York City Council.

Lucy Cruz, the City Council member for district 18 from 1991 until 2001, had one of the worst attendance records in the history of City Council.

In 2002, her successor Ruben Diaz took office. A few months later, Diaz launched a campaign to unseat incumbent Pedro Espada, Jr. in the State Senate. Both Espada and Diaz waged a series of attack ads and legal battles, stoking a long, bitter rivalry between the two Bronx Democratic factions. After three weeks of recounts and legal challenges, Diaz was declared a winner of the primary for State Senate by a few hundred votes.

Now Espada, Jr. is making run for the district 18 seat in the council that Diaz left vacant.

"Yes, I have lost in the past," says Espada. "But the fight must go on."

Espada says his experience in Albany makes him the best qualified candidate for City Council.

"I know from experience that the city is dependent on the state," says Espada. "I know how Albany works and I can help the City Council get what it needs."

If elected, Espada, who runs the a series of health clinics in the Bronx, says he will work for free and donate the $90,500 council salary to charity. He also says he will vote against any tax increases for the working class and ensure that funding for education goes to the classroom.

Espada's main rival is 32-year-old Kenneth Padilla, a lawyer and district leader for the South Bronx, who has the backing of the Bronx Democratic Party and endorsements of numerous public officials including City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

Padilla says two of his top priorities are protecting senior citizen centers and after-school programs from budget cuts.

"We are living in difficult times," says Padilla. "There are no easy answers. We have to set priorities, realize what our district needs, and fight for what we need, especially from the state and federal government."

Community activist Hilda Hernandez is also running, but has been knocked off the ballot. She is appealing the decision and vows to continue campaigning no matter how the Board of Election ruling turns out.

"I don't have any opponents in my mind," says Hernandez. "I'm running for the benefit of the people."

District 18 encompasses neighborhoods like Parkchester, Castle Hill, and parts of Soundview. In recent years, the area has overcome a difficult past, renovating much of its abandoned housing, cleaning up the parts of the waterfront in Bronx River Park, and attracting new business to the area. Soundview is best known as the neighborhood where Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, was shot 41 times by police officers in 1999. Since then, community groups have worked with the 43rd precinct to rebuild relationships between residents and police.

However, often in Bronx politics, the rivalry between two Democratic factions, not neighborhood issues, becomes the focus of the campaign.

Espada first beat the Bronx machine in 1992 when he ran successfully for State Senate. In 1996, the party challenged the senator's petitions and he was knocked off the ballot. Espada was reelected again in 2000 then two years later switched to the Republican Party; Bronx Democratic leaders tried to have him removed from their party rolls.

Espada accuses the party of voter fraud in the 2002 State Senate race against Diaz and says he is concerned it will happen again in this City Council special election.

"I am a former boxer and counter-puncher," says Espada. "l'll wait to see what they throw my way."

Padilla says he will "run a clean campaign" and focus on the issues because "that is what the district needs."

The winner of the special election will have to run again in the fall, since the City Council lines are being redrawn to accommodate the 2000 census. That means the new council member will have just a few months to set up an office and learn the job before running again.


CAMPAIGN UPDATE
Hilda Hernandez was knocked off the ballot and is no longer running for the district 18 City Council seat. (Posted 2/21/03)

--Posted 2/3/03

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BIOGRAPHIES

Pedro Espada, Jr. served three terms in the New York State Senate and helped found the Soundview Health Care Network. He received his B.A. from Fordham University and received certification from the New York University Real Estate Institute in 1990. In addition, he has received graduate training certificates from the Wharton School of Business, the Columbia University School of Public Health, and graduate-level training at the Hunter School of Social Work.

Hilda Hernandez is an educator and community activist. She helped found the Robert F. Kennedy Community Development Corporation to aid homeowners, students, senior citizens and residents to address community issues. She has served as an education coordinator for City Council district 18 and an early childhood educator for the Board of Education. She has a B.A. from Mercy College and a Master's degree from Bank Street College.

Kenneth Padilla is the district leader for the 76th Assembly District in the Bronx and an assistant dean at for the Minority Student Program at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark. He is a graduate of Brown University and a graduate of Rutgers University Law School. He serves as a board member for several organizations including the Bronx Young Democrats, the Action-Home Attendant Program, and the Puerto Rican Bar Association. He also sits on the Community Planning Board for district nine, which manages city funds allocated for the Parkchester, Soundview, Castle Hill area of the Bronx.





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CAMPAIGN TRAIL

2/14/03
Pedro Espada Jr faces Kenneth Padilla in special election for City Council seat representing Soundview neighborhood of Bronx. Espada Jr. seemed energized by the prospect of spending the next five hours, well into darkness, campaigning door to door in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. "It's actually a lot of fun," said Mr. Espada, a former state senator who is running for City Council in a special election on Feb. 25. "And I have an abundance of energy. More than any other trait, I take pride in my perseverance, my persistence and my endurance. I'm a long-distance runner -- in politics, too." (New York Times)

01/30/03
Less than a week after former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. announced he would serve without pay if elected to the City Council, state officials have yanked funding from a string of South Bronx clinics he owns. While the state Health Department said the issue is financial mismanagement, Espada said yesterday that the decision not to renew his clinics' WIC (Women, Infants and Children) food program contract was the result of a "political vendetta." (Daily News)

01/14/03
The race for the 18th District City Council just got interesting. Up until Tuesday, only one person was running, but now two more have entered the ring. Former state Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. and Bronx activist Hilda Hernandez both announced that they have decided to run. Tuesday was the deadline for candidates to enter their names. Newcomer Ken Padilla was originally running unopposed. ALSO: Watch a Video Clip of Candidates. (Bronx 12)

01/06/03
The borough's Democratic organization has announced its support of a party district leader for the City Council seat formerly held by the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., who was elected to the State Senate in November. The candidate is Kenneth Padilla, a 32-year-old assistant dean at the Rutgers University School of Law. Mr. Padilla, who was elected a Democratic district leader in the South Bronx last September, formerly worked as a lawyer in the office of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. Mr. Padilla's candidacy came after one of his political patrons, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr., decided not to run for the Council seat his father had held. Since the election of the elder Mr. Diaz to the Senate, his son had been considering entering the race. In the end, however, the assemblyman said he decided to remain in the Legislature, where he has served for six years, explaining that he felt he was more likely to establish a stronger legislative record and that he wanted the experience of serving with his father in Albany. In the Bronx race, the question being asked by most politicians yesterday was how many opponents Mr. Padilla might face in the election. Many speculated that either former Councilman Pedro Gautier Espada or his father, former State Senator Pedro Espada Jr., would enter the race. Hilda Hernandez, a Bronx civic leader, was also gathering signatures to enter the race. (NY Times)

11/04/02
These are the themes of the final week of the race in the 32nd State Senate District, a swath of the South Bronx that for the last few months has been the scene of one of the most unusual, contentious and litigious political races New York City has seen. The race is between an incumbent state senator, Pedro Espada Jr., a longtime Democrat who announced in February his intention to become a Republican, and Ruben Diaz Sr., a city councilman who became a candidate for the Senate only 13 days before the Democratic primary in September. Over the last few months, the race has turned even stranger, with one candidate hiring private investigators to dig up information on an opponent, and accusations of votes being cast by dead people in the Democratic primary. It has involved a deeply rooted family feud and produced reams of court papers filed by the state's top Democratic and Republican election lawyers. At times, voters have had little idea which candidate is on the ballot. (NY Times)

1/03/03
After weeks of speculation, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that he will not run for the City Council seat left vacant by his father. Reverend Ruben Diaz stepped down from his post as city councilman after winning a seat in the state Senate. There was word that his son might go after the City Council position, but after weighing his options decided he would stay in the Assembly. (Bronx 12)

10/26/02
After nearly three weeks of legal disputes and court-supervised ballot counting, a State Supreme Court judge in the Bronx ordered yesterday that the Board of Elections certify Ruben Diaz Sr. as the winner of the Democratic primary for a State Senate seat. He had a lead of 97 votes over the incumbent, Pedro Espada Jr. (NY Times)

09/19/02
In one of the most memorable - and turbulent - Bronx primary races in recent memory, state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and veteran South Bronx Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo appeared yesterday to be losers after a vote recount. A final Board of Elections recount from the Sept. 10 Democratic Primary that included affidavit and absentee paper ballots showed Espada losing by 115 votes to the party-backed challenger, City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., for Espada's seat in the 32nd Senate District in Mott Haven, Hunts Point and Soundview. (Daily News)

07/22/02
When State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx announced in February that he was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, he stated bluntly that he could funnel more state money to his district as a member of the Senate's majority party. He made no mention of funneling more money to himself. Three months later, the Legislature approved a budget that included $745,000 in grants to a nonprofit community group that Espada heads, and that pays him more than $200,000 a year. The grants were among Espada's "member items," the discretionary pork-barrel money legislators get to dole out as they see fit. Several lawmakers, aides and ethics experts said that giving state grants to a group in which a lawmaker has a direct financial stake is unheard of, ethically questionable and possibly illegal. The grants were also unusually large for member items. Espada at first denied having anything to do with the grants, which, he said, "would be very wrong." He denied even knowing of their existence. Days later, though, he said he had been confused, and acknowledged that the member items had been included in the budget at his request. (New York Times)

02/02/02
Pedro Espada Jr. is a state senator who makes nearly $80,0000 a year, but when it came time for his former campaign workers to be paid, they say the senator stiffed them. Five months ago the group of campaign employees all say they worked a day and a half for Espada on his unsuccessful campaign for Bronx Borough President. They were promised $80 a day, but now all they have is a T-shirt. Pedro Espada blames the city's campaign finance board, saying they never gave him matching funds. But the finance board says these funds should not affect employees payments. (Local 7 ABC News)

Read the 2001 campaign trail for district 18.

 








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