District 14 Fordham, Kingsbridge Heights, Morris Heights
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 14

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?
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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Maria Baez, Dem 7,595 - 80 percent
Brian Draper, Rep 1,072 - 11 percent
Agustin Alamo, Con 507 - 5 percent
Sergio Villaverde, Ind 367 - 4 percent

Primary Election Results

Maria Baez 4,456
Israel Ruiz 3,137
Charles Williams 1,953
Sergio Villaverde 1,219
Agustin Alamo 660
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Adolfo Carrion Jr.

The Candidates:

  • Augustin Alamo (Con)
  • Maria Baez (Dem)
  • Brian Draper (Rep)
  • Sergio Villaverde (Ind)
  • Charles Williams (Dem)

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Contributors to Augustin Alamo
Contributors to Maria Baez
Brian Draper has not filed
Contributors to Israel Ruiz
Contributors to Sergio Villaverde
Contributors to Charles Williams

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 14

Issue Statements:
District 14 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Bronx Scramble

The current City Councilman of the Northwest Bronx, Adolofo Carrion Jr. was one of the few whom term limits would not have forced out of office. Supporters spoke of him as a good candidate to become the new City Council Speaker. But in May, Carrion announced that he is giving up his seat to run for Bronx borough president.

That is not the only reason there was a last-minute scramble in district 14. After protesting the United States Naval bombing on Vieques Island, Carrion was sentenced to 40 days in jail, and is currently campaigning for borough president from a prison cell in Brooklyn, one of the Vieques Four. The other three are the Rev. Al Sharpton, State Assemblyman Jose Rivera , and, most to the point, the head of the Bronx Democratic Party, Roberto Ramirez,

This turn of events has left the Bronx Democratic Party little time to hand-pick the candidate to succeed Carrion. Still, recently, the party did manage to endorse Maria Baez, a chief clerk at the Bronx Board of Elections, and someone with close ties to the Vieques Four. Baez served as Jose Rivera's chief of staff when he was City Councilman, and Baez was honored last year by Carrion at a party entitled "A Salute to Bronx Superheroes." Baez would not return calls to comment on her candidacy.

Two other candidates also have announced they are running for the seat, and they say they object to the power that the Bronx political machine is trying to assert over the district.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.

Race:

  • Hispanic: 67%
  • Black: 23%
  • White: 6%
  • Asian: 5%

Median income:$27,257(48th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 15%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

"Everybody is fighting," said Israel Ruiz, who represented the district in City Council from 1991 to 1997. "Where is the new blood they're all talking about? It is the same clique just taking care of themselves. The ones that are really suffering are the people who they are supposed to be representing, and this is one of the poorest areas in the Bronx."

Candidate Sergio Villaverde, a community lawyer and former police officer in Kingsbridge Heights , said he is running in hopes of making politics in the Bronx more just.

"People say you're a nice guy, why are you getting involved in politics?" said Villaverde. "I'm still a nice guy, but the only way to make politics fair is to get involved."

Ruiz said that after he left City Council in 1997 to run for Bronx borough president (and lost to Fernando Ferrer), the programs he implemented fell apart.

"After I left they just dropped everything instead of building on what previous administrations do," he said.

One specific project both candidates want to reinvigorate is the abandoned Armory building in Kingsbridge Heights, which is seen as an opportunity for economic development, but also as a possible site for schools or a recreation center.

Ruiz plans to reinstate his proposal for converting the 500,000 square foot space into a school and a media complex for Lehman College. Villaverde wants to convert the building into an extensive sports facility, something similar to Chelsea Piers, he said, which would bring both economic development and increased visibility to the area.

Thanks to several incidents of police brutality in the Bronx, both candidates also cite police-community relations as an important issue. Villaverde, the former police officer, blames the poor relationship on the lack of community beat officers, who only exist in name now, he said, and are never seen patrolling the neighborhood. Ruiz wants to implement psychological screenings for police officers, to make sure they can cope in the tense environment of being a police officer in the Bronx. "They see so much death and blood that they become desensitized and death doesn't mean anything to them anymore." As a state senator, Ruiz says, he implemented similar psychological screenings for correctional officers in prisons.

Although both candidates feel community-police relations are important, they also see a bigger injustice to the community in its children not getting the education they deserve. District 14 has the second lowest test scores in both math and reading in the city.

"Of course getting unfairly harassed by a cop is unfair, but reading at second grade level in the fifth grade will hurt these children more down the line," said Villaverde.

"I have a great distrust for the Board of Education," added Villaverde, who supports the abolishment of the Board of Education and the creation of an agency with an elected commissioner. "Teachers are caught up in bureaucracy that doesn't work."

If elected, Ruiz plans to restore some of his after-school programs like the tutorial program in P.S. 33 that was cut and which Ruiz says increased students' test scores dramatically. In order to alleviate the teacher shortage in New York City, Villaverde wants to implement a CUNY Core, a program similar to the Police Cadet Core, in which students studying to be a teacher can go to college for free.

Ruiz and Villaverde are also looking forward to the major change in the city's administration as an opportunity to introduce fresh ideas.

"The system has been stagnant," Ruiz said. "Every politician says that education and children are their main issues on their platforms but nothing changes. We have to take from the best and try to implement that because what we have tried in the past isn't working for a lot of people."

posted 6/19/01

Campaign Update:

Since City Councilman Adolfo Carrion announced his run for Bronx Borough President several weeks ago, a host of new candidates have begun their campaigns in district 14.

There are now eight candidates hoping to be in the ballot this fall and the two rival Bronx Democratic organizations have endorsed their candidates. Pedro Espada, Jr., who is running for Bronx Borough President, has endorsed Charles Williams, former President of Community School Board 10. Roberto Ramirez, head of the Bronx Democratic Party, has endorsed Maria Baez, the chief clerk at the Bronx Board of Elections.

Due to the late announcements of these campaigns and the candidates failing to respond to requests for interviews, this district will be updated again soon. Watch for updates and go to the Campaign Trail for more details.

posted 7/26/01


Candidate Biographies

Augustin Alamo has been a public school teacher in the Bronx for 18 years. He received his Masters degree from City College. He has run unsuccessfully for City Council and State Assembly.

Maria Baez serves as chief clerk for the Bronx Board of Elections. She served as Councilman Jose Rivera's chief-of-staff, District Leader in the 78th Assembly District and was the executive director of the Housing Workshop, a housing advocacy group in the west Bronx.

Israel Ruiz, Jr., has been serving the public interest for two decades in city and state government, and is a public servant, attorney, educator, military veteran and community activist. In 1974, Ruiz was elected to the New York State Senate and from 1991-1997, he served as New York City Councilman, r epresenting District 14 in Northwest Bronx, after which he ran for Bronx borough president. Prior to his career in public service, he worked as a law assistant for the New York State Attorney General's office and as an educational counselor for a non-profit organization.

Sergio Villaverde is a community lawyer in Kingsbridge Heights, where he previously served as a police officer and a volunteer paramedic. At 19, he joined the US Coast Guard Reserve and was appointed Commissioned Officer Status in 1995 by President Clinton.

 


Campaign Trail

8/26/01
The return to the campaign trail of Israel Ruiz, 58, a politician with one of the most colorful histories in the Bronx, has been a fascinating chapter in a competitive race in the 14th Council District, which includes Fordham and Kingsbridge Heights. In his quest to regain his former seat, Mr. Ruiz is confronting four other candidates. One is Maria Baez, who took a leave of absence as chief clerk of the Bronx office of the Board of Elections to run for the Council. Ms. Baez, 43, is backed by the Democratic Party organization in the Bronx. The others are Sergio Villaverde, 34, a lawyer and former police officer who has been involved in a number of civic and community organizations; Charles Williams, the five- term president of Community School Board 10, who became known because of his efforts to prevent the construction of a new school for Marble Hill and Kingsbridge, arguing that it was racially exclusive; and Agustin Alamo, a public school teacher in the Bronx who has run unsuccessfully in the past for City Council and for the State Assembly. (NY Times)

7/24/01
Bronx City Council candidate Sergio Villaverde files a complaint with the Board of Ethics claiming opponent for the 14th District City Council Maria Baez rigged the race while employed at the Board of Elections. She denies it. (News 12 Interactive)

7/19/01
Pedro Espada, Jr. endorsed Charles Williams for City Council in the 14th district, who is best known for his fight to prevent the construction of a new school for Marble Hill and Kingsbridge, based on the argument of race. (The Riverdale Review)

6/14/01
Israel Ruiz Jr., a former state senator and city councilman, spoke out this past week on the "Bronx Press Review: On the Air," hosted by Andrew Wolf, on various topics concerning the state of borough politics and his upcoming race to replace Councilman Adolfo Carrion Jr. as the council representative from the 14th district. (Riverdale Review)

6/8/01
Mr. Adolfo Carrion, a city councilman who wants to be the next Bronx borough president, has spent all but five days since he entered the race in jail, for protesting near the United States Navy bombing site on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. (The New York Times)

6/06/01
Israel Ruiz, who held the 14th District City Council seat until his failed bid for the borough presidency in 1997, is out to reclaim his old job. With Councilman Adolfo Carrion (D-Bronx) running for borough president this year, the Council seat will be up for grabs in November. In addition to Ruiz, Maria Baez, chief clerk of the Bronx Board of Elections and former Community School Board 10 President Charles Williams will be vying for the seat. Baez has the backing of the borough's Democratic Organization. (Daily News)

5/24/01
Rev. Al Sharpton and three prominent Puerto Rican politicians from New York, including City Councilmen, Adolofo Carrion Jr. for District 14, were arrested and sentenced to jail time, for protesting near the United States Navy bombing site on Vieques earlier this month. Carrion was sentenced to 40 days in prison. (The New York Times)

5/24/01
After months of indecision and uncertainty in the Bronx Democratic Committee headquarters, this past week a controversial county leader finally decided that he will back freshman City Councilman Adolfo Carrion Jr. for the coveted position of Bronx Borough President. (Riverdale Review)

2/26/01
An open seat for the Bronx borough presidency is already creating a political warfare between the two Bronx political machines, which each have their own candidates in mind to replace the current borough president, Fernando Ferrer. Adolofo Carrion Jr. is a likely candidate that the Bronx Democratic Party will support. (The New York Times)

2/18/01
At least three current Council members are vying to be the new Speaker: Bill Perkins, Gifford Miller, and Angel Rodriguez. A fourth, Adolfo Carrion, says he'll be in the running for Speaker if he does not run for Bronx Borough President. (NY Post)

1/2/00
The committees meeting to plan the two middle/high schools in Riverdale and Marble Hill came under sharp attack last Thursday from school board members Charles Williams and Myrna Calderon. Criticizing the extensive involvement of School Board Member Cordell Schachter in the Marble Hill Academy (368) committee, Williams implied that "Jewish Riverdale" would not dictate to the Marble Hill community what the structure of the new school there would be, and Calderon called the two panels "stealth committees." (Riverdale Review)

12/14/00
Councilman Carrion hosts a party to salute Bronx leaders. Among them, was Maria Baez (Bronx Times)

11/18/99
The battle over two proposed high schools for the northwest Bronx raged on this week before Community School Board 10. Charles Williams, former Community School district 10 President, argued that the high school proposed to be built in Riverdale would exclude minority children from Marble Hill and Kingsbridge and in addition the site slated for the new Kingsbridge High School might have toxic pollution, including lead dust. Riverdale community leaders, including Community School district 10 President Oliver Koppell, argued that Riverdale needs a new high school that can compete with the high schools in the suburbs to stop parents from moving out of Riverdale. (Daily News)

09/8/99
When is a "toxic waste dump" not toxic at all? Apparently when it suits the purposes of the "Toxic Five" majority of the local Community School Board, led by Charles Williams. For months these despicable folks have been scaring parents and community residents, falsely telling them that the site of the soon-to-be-built M.S. 368 is a "toxic waste dump." This big lie was concocted to try to derail the construction of that new school, which would facilitate the needed restructuring of M.S. 141. (Riverdale Review)

10/8/98
Agustin Alamo along with other community members filed a petition with the Supreme Court alleging that the nomination of a judge to the Civil Court by the Bronx County Organization violated the Election Law. (The Riverdale Review)

 

Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.


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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
DemocracyNet
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
DL21C
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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