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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Jose Serrano, Dem 12,002 - 88 percent
Aida Perez, Rep 1,428 - 11 percent
Patrick McManus, Con 145 - 1 percent
Jose Serrano 9,258
Pedro Espada Jr. 5,975
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Pedro G. Espada
- Patrick McManus (Con)
- Aida Perez (Rep)
- Jose Marco Serrano (Dem)
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Pedro G. Espada
to Jose Marco Serrano
Patrick McManus has not filed.
Aida Perez has not filed.
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
Rising Sons, Still-Fallen Neighborhood
Walking along Hunts Point Boulevard near 163rd Street, with
its modest but well-kept apartment buildings and high-flying Puerto
Rican flags, it is difficult to believe that this section of the
South Bronx is one of the city's most troubled areas.
Much of District 17, although better than it once was, remains
abused and forsaken. Although the problems cut a broad swath,
the city council race in the area will focus on three major issues:
the environment, education and a lack of affordable housing. These
concerns are familiar throughout much of the city, but in district
17, they are especially dire and symptomatic of what candidate
Jose Marco Seranno calls an "on-going systematic neglect of the
Such difficulties may be put on the backburner, though, while
the two candidates vying to represent the district, incumbent
Pedro G. Espada and challenger Jose Marco Serrano, carry on a
family feud begun by their fathers, state Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr.
and U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano.
The Espadas, known as political mavericks, are familiar foes
of the Bronx Democratic Party organization, which endorsed Serrano
for city council in mid-May. The Espadas once considered Congressman
Serrano a firm supporter, says Councilman Espada. But tensions
have run high between the Espadas and the Bronx Democratic Party
since Senator Espada was accused of embezzling money from his
health-care center to fund his political campaigns. Espada charged
the Democratic Party organization with being behind the indictment.
He was acquitted last year.
The younger Espada is far less confrontational than his father
in discussing the feud, and indeed far less clear. "I was unaware
when the family feud began," he says. "In no shape or form do
we consider it a feud."
Serrano, an information systems manager at the New York Shakespeare
Festival, says he grew up "in a household where community service
was the number one priority." He believes his dedication to the
South Bronx will infuse "a new energy into city district 17,"
and rally the community to demand change from the city council.
District 17 has long served as a receptacle for the city's waste
and as a site for industrial eyesores. Everything from medical
incinerators to garbage transfer stations and power turbines have
found a home there. At least 40 percent of the city's garbage
is dumped in the district. During his term in office, Espada has
consistently opposed placing new waste transfer stations in the
Trucks traverse the neighborhoods, contributing, some believe,
to an asthma rate in the South Bronx that is 12 times the national
average. In recent months, the city has increased its steps to
move the Fulton Fish Market from Manhattan to the South Bronx.
This has placed more strain on an already tenuous relationship
between the district's community leaders and city hall.
Majora Carter of the Point Community Development Corporation,
who considered running for City Council herself, says the council
member elected to represent the South Bronx should push for research
on alternative fuels and develop truck routes that circumvent
neighborhoods. Serrano endorses Carter's approach.
Carter and Serrano believe that residents of the South Bronx
need to join together to fight the "environmental racism" that
forces so many polluting facilities on poor neighborhoods.
Education also cries out for the candidates' attention. Although
some improvements have been made, such as Saturday English class
for Spanish-speaking students at some elementary schools, test
scores are among the lowest in the city. In 1998-99 only 28 percent
of students scored at or above the national average in reading;
39 percent scored at or above the national average in math.
The schools confronted with this problem are woefully overcrowded.
PS 130, on Prospect Avenue is at 110 percent of its capacity.
The average class size is 38, according to principal Daniel Garcia,
who says his teachers are not offered enough training. This is
especially crucial in the neighborhood, because schools often
must provide children the kind of support that they are not receiving
Despite persistent problems, Garcia has been pleased with Espada's
work as a city councilmember. "He's very responsive to us," declares
Garcia. Espada estimates that he has pumped over $100,000 into
new school computer labs and after-school programs. He supported
the opening of two youth centers at the Melrose Houses, a housing
The problem of affordable housing in the area is made worse because,
while there are still plenty of abandoned buildings that could
be renovated for the poor, new buildings are going up instead
for middle-income families, through projects such as those run
by the New York City Partnership. Most of these apartment are
for families that make a minimum of $35,000 a year, says Mathew
Lee of the Inner City Press, while the average household income
in district 17 is around $20,000.
Each candidate in this race has an asset. Espada is the incumbent;
Serrano h as the Bronx Democratic Party organization's backing.
The race might come down to which organization, the Bronx Democrats
or the Espadas, has the most political leverage. But with a neglected
community in tow, many people in the South Bronx are less interested
in political rivalries than their community's future.
Incumbent Councilman Pedro G. Espada and Jose Marco Serrano remain
the only Democratic candidates vying for the city council seat
in district 17, but one of them will face Republican Aida Perez
and Conservative Patrick McManus in the general election in November.
McManus, a retired postal service employee and former candidate
for Congress, cited failing schools and crime as two major issues
he would address if elected. McManus believes the first step to
solving the district's problems is electing a city council member
who operates independent of any party machine.
"It's important to have council members who don't answer to political
leaders and are not afraid of stepping on a few toes. Council
members should be their own people," says McManus.
Aida Perez could not be reached for an interview.
Pedro G. Espada is the current council member for district
17. He serves on the civil service and labor committee, contracts
committee, health committee, and youth services committee. Espada
became the youngest State Assemblyman in history when he won a
seat there in 1996, and then served for less than a year.
Patrick McManus, a retired postal worker, ran for Congress
in 2000. He also serves on the executive committee of the Conservative
Aida Perez (no information available)
Jose Marco Serrano is an information systems manager
for the New York Shakespeare Festival and a member of Community
Board 4 and Bronx Council on the Arts as well as chairman of the
board for Urban Family Health, a nonprofit health-care organization.
The New York Times called this one of the ten races to watch.
The race in the Mott Haven and Hunts Point sections of the Bronx
is an intense battle between the sons of two of the Bronx's best-known
politicians. Councilman Pedro Gautier Espada, the son of State
Senator Pedro Espada Jr., is in the battle of his political life
against Josˇ Marco Serrano, the son of Representative Josˇ E.
Serrano. The race also highlights a boroughwide feud between the
Espada family and its political operation and the Bronx Democratic
organization, which is supporting Mr. Serrano. (New York Times)
Roberto Ramirez is not the only one with something to lose this
fall. Another potential big loser or winner, depending on what
happens, is Congressman Jose Serrano. The race in the 17th council
district is a very tough race. Opposing any incumbent is a difficult
thing. This is high-stakes political theater, here. When you have
Jose Marco Serrano, the congressman's son, running against Councilman
Pedro Gautier Espada, the son of the borough president candidate
and state senator, you would have to expect that if the younger
Serrano doesn't win that race, someone would be challenging Congressman
Serrano the following year in 2002. (Bronx
The Bronx Democratic Party organization endorses Jose Marco Serrano.
Jose Marco Serrano, a 28-year-old information systems manager
for the New York Shakespeare Festival and the son of Representative
Jose E. Serrano, is running for a Council seat in the Bronx. (He
is challenging the incumbent, Pedro Gautier Espada, who is the
son of State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.) And in another generational
move, the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., 57, is hoping to win a Council
seat with the assistance of his 27-year-old campaign manager and
son, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. (New York Times)
The sons of two well-known South Bronx Democrats are carrying
on their fathers' rivalries in the 17th District City Council
race. Incumbent Pedro G. Espada, son of state Sen. Pedro Espada
Jr., will face a challenge from Jose Marco Serrano, whose father
is Rep. Jose Serrano. The race promises to be yet another battlefront
in the war between the Espadas and the borough's Democratic organization.