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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Madeline Provenzano, Dem 15,182 - 64 percent
John H. Wilson, Rep 8,688 - 36 percent
Madeline Provenzano 6,234
Egidio Sementilli 2,495
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Madeline Provenzano
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
Madeline Provenzano has not yet filed.
to Egidio Sementilli
to John H. Wilson
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
The Twilight Zone
New Yorkers are used to noise, crowded streets, and tall buildings,
but as one heads into the eastern parts of the Bronx one can begin
to feel that something is amiss.
Vast tracts of grass in parks such as Pelham Bay Park, the largest
in New York City, cover much of the 13th Council District. Neighborhoods
still have wooden street signs reminiscent of a historic New England
town. There is even an island, City Island, that one can walk
around 20 minutes.
Nevertheless, there are parts of district 13 that remind us that
this is New York City after all. Although over 70 percent of the
district is made up of single family homes, low-income apartment
complexes, universities and shopping centers as well as some not-so
clean streets sprinkle the central neighborhoods of the area.
Still, urban ills remain largely absent. Crime in police precinct
49, the district's largest precinct, has gone down an estimated
18 percent since last year and 50 percent in the last seven years.
The average family income has remained solidly middle-class at
an estimated $48,000. Schools, although suffering from overcrowding,
have shown encouraging signs such as an increase in math scores
which place 63 percent of students above the national average.
"Things are OK around here, sometimes good, sometimes OK, sometimes
bad, but hey, things work out," said Gary Goldberg, a resident
of Throgs Neck.
This feeling of optimism and stability pervades the area's political
scene as well. Like all of the Bronx, District 13 is a Democratic
haven. Madeline Provenzano, the current councilmember, took over
the seat from Michael Demasco, who became a State Supreme Court
Justice and for whom she worked as chief of staff for 19 years.
This year Provenzano so far has no challengers .
Provenzano, following the ethos of the district, is very set
on retaining continuity. She was one of the council members adamantly
opposed to term limits, which she says deprive City Council of
"the invaluable historical perspective that can only be provided
by seasoned veterans."
Indeed, Provenzano claims that it is her knowledge and her experience
that have made her time in City Council fruitful. She is most
proud of her successes in helping the children of the area, who
were the center-piece of her 1997 campaign in which she evoked
the trendy phrase, "it takes a village."
"I have been able to bring into my district $17 million of capital
budget and have been able to bring many after school programs
as well as computer labs to all schools, and soon to all libraries,"
She cites as one of her achievements the construction and imminent
opening of the first library in Morris Park. And Provenzano also
boasts of getting money for the first roller rink in the Bronx
which was recently completed at the Bufano Playground in the Waterbuury-LaSalle
area. "The project was something one of my neighboring council
members was jealous of and has now set out to do in his own district,"
Although District 13 is peaceful, there are a few issues. One
of the nagging concerns in the area is the planned Throgs Neck
extension of the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company's natural
gas pipeline. At the beginning of the year, four routes were being
discussed for the pipeline. Two of them went directly through
residential areas. Those routes have been abandoned for the other
two possibilities, one of which would go along the Cross Bronx
Expressway around the neighborhood , and the other through the
East River, avoiding Throgs Neck almost completely. Although most
residents do not oppose the under-water route, the on-land route
will probably be chosen due to its lower cost.
James Vacca, district manager of community board 10 and others
in the community are concerned about the pipeline's safety and
worry that a pipeline going through land could lower the value
of homes in the area. "This project is going to affect homes and
local housing projects; we are going to take this project personally"
Provenzano, however, says the two routes in question are the
more neighborhood-friendly of the possible options since they
avoid direct intrusion into the neighborhood itself. "The federal
government makes the final decision, and we are going to have
to deal with it," she adds.
Some residents complain also about overdevelopment of the area.
"Houses are springing up where there were none, and bigger houses
are being built. I'm afraid there will be a day when I can't find
parking, or a day when there will be too much noise on the streets,"
said Jeffrey Pingam, a resident of Throgs Neck.
"What I've done is put in money for a city planner who will do
some research into over development. I also want to make sure
our residents know what sort of development is going on in their
neighborhoods every step of the way," Provenzano says.
The councilmember looks to continue on the same path she has
been on for 21 years now -- at least for as long as term limits
will permit. "I only have two more years," she grumbles. "I'm
going to make them good and keep things around here good."
Still, some people claim that the situation in the neighborhood
is not one of prosperity, but of stagnation. " Sure, things may
not be bad, but there can always be improvements. Provenzano seems
to be riding on the natural stability of the area. It is not good
enough to keep things stable. It is essential to continually make
things better," says Ellen Morrone, a Bronx Republican.
Whether or not things have improved, all indications are that
Provenzano will get two more years in office. After all, nobody
is running against her.
In an election year when dozens of candidates are vying for a
single city council seat, district 13 seemed an island of calm,
with the Democratic incumbent Madeline Provenzano running unchallenged.
But two challengers have emerged. John Wilson, an attorney and
a member of the Bronx Conservative Party's Executive Committee,
recently kicked off his campaign in earnest. And Egidio Sementilli,
a long time political activist in the area will face Provenzano
in the September 11 primary. "I'm trying to give the people a
choice in this election, a choice that is often missing in Bronx
politics," said Sementilli, who has also run successfully for
State Assembly in 1998.
Both Sementilli and Wilson said they are confident despite the
prospect of facing an incumbent.
"Her main achievements are to support a plan for a golf course
on top of a toxic waste dump, which most people are opposed to
and her other achievement is to bring to Morris Park a library
that is too small and too inconvenient," said Sementilli.
Sementilli said he favors a widespread tax incentive for middle
class families and the establishment of specific economic zones
in the area to help encourage development. He has also called
for an affordable daycare system for children.
"We are facing a crisis in New York," said Sementilli. "After
eight years of going forward, especially in this community, we
are now facing a crisis. Our taxes are not being used well. They
are not coming back to the taxpayers in the form of city services
-- police services, sanitation services, park services."
Wilson has proposed splitting the 45th police precinct -- which
is charged with covering most of the area in district 13 -- into
two separate precincts in order to improve police protection and
response time. "This could become a serious problem as more people
move into the area," explained Wilson. "I'd prefer to make these
improvements before we have any problems."
Wilson has also focused his attention on the presence of so-called
"hot sheet" or short-stay motels that are being built increasingly
closer to residential areas. Wilson wants to restrict the building
of these motels to industrial areas, arguing that the motels,
which could attract illegal activity, will decrease property values
and bring crime if built near residential areas. In addition,
Wilson has voiced his opposition to building the Throgs Neck extension
of the Iroquois Pipeline Company's natural gas lines through various
parts of the district, preferring the more expensive but he said
safer option of building the pipeline underwater through the East
But will these issues raise enough interest to unseat the incumbent?
"Most people are not talking about [the election] yet," said
James Vacca, district manager of Community Board 10. "I don't
think they've had a chance to focus. But when they do, the scene
they see will be markedly different from what was predicted for
Wilson faces a challenge in convincing voters who historically
vote Democratic. "Most people here may be registered Democratic,
but many of them are conservative-minded," said Wilson. "A lot
of the Democrats in this district supported Giuliani and [State
Senator] Guy Valella, who recently endorsed my campaign. I may
be a Republican, but people don't realize that I'm also very pro-union."
Sementilli is in the process of founding his own political club,
the Pelham Bay Democratic Club, to provide the nucleus of his
campaign and fundraising efforts. "The people realize there is
going to be a change in City Hall, and they know they need someone
to fight for them," said Sementilli.
Madeline Provenzano was elected to the City Council in
1997. She chairs the subcommittee on federal legislation and is
a member of the committees on public safety, standards and ethics,
fire and criminal justice services, housing and buildings, parks,
recreation, cultural affairs, and international relations. Widowed
at age 30 with three small children, she became active in her
Bronx community on issues important to her as a single parent
- education, health care, caring for the elderly. Before her election
to the City Council, she spent 19 years in city government as
the chief of staff to former Councilmember Michael Demarco and
as the democratic district leader in the 80th Assembly District
Egidio Sementilli has been a long time activist and volunteer
in the Bronx, working on several local election campaigns. He
ran for State Assembly in 1998. He has been a member of Community
Board 6, while also doing volunteer work for the Belmont community.
John H. Wilson has been an attorney for the past 15 years
in criminal defense and personal injury cases, and now runs his
own practice. A graduate from Fordham University and Pace Law
school, Wilson was born and raised in the Bronx and now lives
in the Pelham Parkway area.
State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., who is also running for Bronx
Borough President, endorses Egidio Sementilli for the City Council
seat in District 13. (Bronx
An article about City Council after term-limits by Councilmember
Provenzano. She writes -- Picture this: you are a stock holder
in a world renowned company that operates on a balanced budget,
provides excellent services and is generally considered to be
responsive to its investors. One morning you open the paper to
find that over 80 percent of the company's employees, including
the most fiercely dedicated and productive members, will be fired
simply because of how long they have been on board. The next day
a new president, managers and staff -- most new to this industry
-- are expected to pick up exactly where the last team left off,
including the almost immediate task of developing and implementing
a $37 billion budget. First, you'd marvel at how anyone could
think this was a good way to affect change. Then, you'd call your
During her swearing-in speech last week, City Council member Madeline
Provenzano pledged to improve the district she represents by focusing
on what makes it a better place to raise children and what is
good for youth. The new City Council member said the theme she
has chosen is "Children Are Our Future." She also sounded the
theme of the African saying, "It takes a village to raise a child,"
pointing out that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had written
a book using the saying in the title. Provenzano, who began her
first term last month as the representative of the 13th Councilmanic
District, was given the oath of office by her predecessor State
Supreme Court Justice Michael DeMarco during a Jan. 28 ceremony
held at the Elephant House at the Bronx Zoo. About 100 people,
including many elected and community leaders, attended the event.
Provenzano, who was DeMarco's chief of staff for19 years, has
stated that she will continue his policies and work to complete
the projects he started. (Bronx
One local developer made good on its promise to listen to the
concerns of Throgs Neck residents this past week at a community
open house, held by the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company. The
open house, held at PS 101 on Lafayette Avenue, was, according
to Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company spokesperson Anita Flanagan,
everything that the company had hoped for. "I think that the open
house went really well," said Flanagan. Flanagan was encouraged
by the turnout of the event, which numbered close to seventy people.
"We were able to answer a lot of questions about the project,
and we were able to accomplish what we wanted to with the community,"
added Flanagan. The project Flanagan is speaking of is the Iroquois
Gas Transmission System's expansion of their pipeline, which runs
from northern New York and down to the Long Island Sound. The
pipeline, upon its expansion across the Bronx, would connect to
Con Edison power station along the East River on the western shore
of the borough. (Bronx
Residents of the Throgs Neck area will have an opportunity next
week to voice their concerns over a plan to extend a gas pipeline
through their area. The new pipeline, to be built by the Iroquois
Gas Transmission System, based in Shelton, Connecticut, has been
deemed necessary by Con Edison due to the City's increasing need
for energy, especially during the summer. The Iroquois Gas Transmission
System has applied for permits to extend their existing pipeline
across Long Island Sound through one of three different proposed
sites for the extension through Throgs Neck. Iroquois Gas Transmission
has also filed for approval on five other sites in the Bronx,
none of which go through Throggs Neck, but those sites are also
unfeasible due to the same gas grid concerns. (Bronx