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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Philip Reed, Dem 17,584 - 83 percent
George DeMartino, Rep 2,372 - 11 percent
Miriam Falcon-Lopez, Ind 1,294 - 6 percent
Philip Reed 8,599
Felipe Luciano 7,553
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Philip Reed
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
George De Martino has not filed
to Miriam Falcon Lopez
to Felipe Luciano
to Philip Reed
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
8 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org
Battling For El Barrio
In the late 1960's, Felipe Luciano, a former drug addict who
served two years in jail for a crime he says he did not commit,
became the leader of the Young Lords Party. The armed Latino political
group took over a church on 111th Avenue and Lexington Avenue
to protest conditions in the neigbhorhood and demanded better
Three decades later and three blocks away, Luciano called a press
conference to announce that he was running for City Council. At
53 years old, he has become a familiar face on television, first
as a reporter on Channel 4, now on Channel 5. If his life has
changed dramatically, he says, it is the kind of extreme transformation
that he hopes to effect on his neighborhood as well.
"I believe I can represent the aspirations and dreams of East
Harlem," he said.
Luciano is one of three challengers hoping to unseat incumbent
Councilmember Phil Reed for City Council district 8. In the 1997
Democratic primary, Reed took only 42 percent of the vote, and
some credit his victory to the split of the Hispanic vote among
competing candidates in the largely Hispanic district.
The heart of the district is East Harlem, a neighborhood that
has welcomed thousands of Puerto Ricans, and increasingly Mexican
and Dominican immigrants, to the city. The neighborhood is world
famous for its Latin-American culture and music (110th Street
was recently renamed for Tito Puente), and many would like to
see a Latino council member.
"I believe the district should go to the Spanish voter," said
Edwin Marcial, another candidate, who is an actor on Spanish-language
soap operas and a local activist.
But it is also a neighborhood known for its struggles.
One major concern in the area is health issues, since district
8 has some of the highest rates of HIV infection and asthma in
the city. Incumbent Reed cites his record of helping create 100
units of AIDS housing in the district and convincing the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority to put a roof and a ventilation system
on the bus depot on 100th Street to prevent exhaust fumes from
polluting the district.
But his challengers contend that more must be done to provide
services and to create a healthier environment for residents.
"I am trying to convince members of the City Council to move the
sanitation garages where the trucks are parked to Randalls Island,"
Housing is also an issue since 40 percent of the area's population
lives in public housing, and the area is plagued by abandoned
property and absentee landlords. Housing is especially a problem
for elderly members of the community, according to candidate Meeling
Eng, who works with seniors. "We have seniors who have been living
here for 30 or 40 years, and now we need to build senior housing
for them," said Eng.
The candidates also put economic development at the top of their
list. "We have inspired some of the greatest Latin music in the
world, but there are no night clubs in our area," said Luciano.
"We have wonderful food, but few restaurants."
District 8 also includes areas of the Upper West Side along Central
Park and Mott Haven in the South Bronx, which presents considerable
challenges to the elected official.
"I don't know anyone that has three completely separate neighborhoods
in their district," said Reed. "But I think we've created a climate
where everyone is represented."
But his opponents disagree. "He's never around," said Eng. "I
was born and raised here. I don't know how much change I can make,
but I will lobby for East Harlem."
"Phil Reed didn't visit the area schools, he forgot about the
Bronx, and he doesn't have a vision for the community," Marcial
Luciano said that members of the East Harlem neighborhood approached
him and urged him to run against Reed. "There is no compassion
or empathy between the current incumbent and the community," he
Luciano also believes that local pastors are the "faith warriors"
who can bring real change to the community and that as the next
councilman he can help. "I believe people will one day want to
move from Westchester to East Harlem because our schools are so
good," said Luciano. "East Harlem can become ninth century Spain,
where Jews, Muslims and Christians live together That is my vision."
Reed, who is a member of the council committees on health, parks,
and public safety, said he will run on his accomplishments, such
as the AIDS housing, cleaning up the pollution at the bus depot,
and making dramatic increases in getting rid of abandoned buildings.
"I don't take anything for granted, but I am confident that based
on my record, I will be reelected."
Miriam Falcon Lopez, chief of staff for Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, IV,
entered the Democratic race for a short time, then withdrew to support
candidate Felipe Luciano.
Falcon Lopez told East
Harlem Online in May that she was challenging Luciano because,
"I don't believe that Felipe Luciano is ready for the job." But
now she is out campaigning with him and will run as an Independence
and Liberal party candidate only if Luciano loses in the primary.
Republican George De Martino says his chances of winning in the
overwhelmingly Democratic area of East Harlem would be "a miracle of God."
De Martino does not plan to campaign or take donations. "I like politics in
general and I basically look at this as a life experience." So why is he
running at all?. "If you don't have two horses, you don't have a race."
George De Martino is a retired retail storeowner who was
born and raised in East Harlem. He volunteers with garden groups,
educational programs, and as a poll worker for the Board of Elections.
Meeling Eng has worked with senior citizens for many years
and is currently with the Theater Art Senior Nutrition Program.
She has been a member of Community School Board 4 for 12 years.
As a person of Puerto Rican and Chinese heritage, she is running
a campaign for community unity.
Miriam Falcon Lopez is chief of staff for Assemblyman
Adam Clayton Powell, IV. She also worked as community representative
and director of director of Congressman Charles Rangel's eastside
district office for 12 years. Falcon Lopez, who is a member of
Community Board 11, has an Associates Degree in Urban Health and
a BA in Business Administration from St. John's University. She
also served in the U.S. Airforce.
Felipe Luciano is an Emmy award-winning reporter. He was
the first Puerto Rican news anchor for WNBC and a former co-host
of Good Day Street Talk on Fox 5. He is also co-founder of the
Young Lords Party and served as a commissioner on the City Task
Force on Police and Community Relations.
Edwin Marcial is a Spanish language soap-opera actor,
a local activist, a member of Community Board 11, and a member
of School Board 4.
Philip Reed was elected to City Council in 1997. He serves
on a number of committees including public safety, governmental
operations, health, and parks. In the past, he worked as the project
director for the East New York HIV/AIDS Project and the director
for public affairs for the Hetrick-Martin Institute. He holds
a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management from the New School
for Social Research.
The New York Times today endorsed a candidate in this race.
Eighth District (Central Park West, East Harlem and Mott Haven
in the South Bronx): This is one of the few districts in which
an incumbent not being forced out by term limits is facing a real
challenge. Councilman Philip Reed is in a tough fight against
Felipe Luciano, a dynamic radio and television personality who
is appealing to Hispanic voters. Given the turnover in the Council
this year, Mr. Reed offers the advantages of stability, seniority
and a solid record of representing the needs of all his constituents,
particularly on the issues of housing and asthma. We endorse Philip
The New York Times called this one of the ten races to watch.
The incumbent councilman, Philip Reed, is facing a primary battle
against Felipe Luciano, a television reporter and anchorman and
a co- founder of the Young Lords. The district includes East Harlem
and a slice of the Bronx. (New York Times)
When Phil Reed won his City Council seat four years ago, he not
only had his supporters to thank, but his opponents as well. Four
Puerto Rican residents of East Harlem divided the votes from their
community, paving the way for victory for the African-American
district leader from the West Side. This year, with newscaster
Felipe Luciano in the race, leaders in El Barrio thought they
had a chance to win the district which is close to 60 percent
Hispanic. A few weeks ago, however, Latino1s chances of taking
the Harlem seat greatly diminished. At a brainstorming session
with a small group of his campaign supporters at the end of April,
Luciano lost some of his star status when he allegedly made comments
described by some witnesses as "offensive" and "hurtful." (Luciano
did not return calls for this story.) Turned off by his behavior,
some people spit off from his campaign, and another East Harlem
candidate was born. Miriam Falcon-Lopez, a longtime staffer to
Congressman Charles Rangel before becoming chief of staff to Asssemblyman
Adam Clayton Powell last year, withdrew her support for Luciano,
announced her candidacy and took some of his supporters with her.
Now, the two residents of El Barrio are dividing the neighborhood1s
institutional power with a third, Edwin Marcial, a perennial candidate
for this seat. (City Limits)
Currently East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem because of
its majority Hispanic population, is represented by Councilman
Phil Reed (D-Manhattan), an African American, who also represents
the upper Upper West Side of Manhattan and part of the South Bronx.
But the majority of his constituents live in East Harlem. One
hears frequent appeals by blacks and Latinos to form a political
coalition to promote common goals. But this City Council race
proves there's as much competition as there is cooperation between
the groups. And with Hispanics having replaced blacks as New York
City's largest racial minority, things could get even more fractious.
The City Council race in East Harlem proves that multi-racial
coalitions are easier to talk about than to achieve. And, in the
end, battles such as these tend to be less about cultural values
than they are about the quest for raw power. (Newsday)
Of the hundreds of candidates running for City Council this year,
few can match the unusual resume of Felipe Luciano, former Young
Lords leader and longtime television reporter. Luciano's life
and career have soared and crashed so often that his story is
already part of New York Latino folklore. (Daily
The East Harlem race heats up with the addition of Felipe Luciano,
a news reporter, and Edwin Marcial, a member of community board
11. Both hope to challenge incumbent Phil Reed in the primary.
Profiles of Councilman Phil Reed in Harlem Live, a community web
site run by local youth. (Harlem
East Harlem says goodbye to Latin musician Tito Puente, including
words from candidate Felipe Luciano. (Newsday)
East Harlem residents continue to oppose the projected renovation
and reopening of a bus depot in a community with the city's highest
asthma hospitalization rate. The city council's transportation
committee heard arguments at the end of March from the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority and community and environmental organizations
about the renovation and reuse of the 100th Street bus depot on
Lexington Avenue, which closed in March 1998. Millard Seay, senior
vice president of the MTA's New York City Transit Department of
Buses, testified that the $90 million renovation is part of a
1993 bus-depot plan to allow the MTA to eventually close the Hudson
and Amsterdam depots in lower and upper Manhattan respectively.
According to Seay, the 100th Street depot will consist of four
floors, totaling approximately 300,000 square feet. Two of the
floors will be used exclusively to house buses and will eliminate
the need for cold-weather idling outside the facility, which releases
noxious fumes. Renovation will increase the depot's capacity by
50 percent, allowing space for 133 new, articulated buses. Councilmember
Philip Reed, who requested the hearing, opposes the bus depot
because his constituents believe the resultant air pollution will
contribute to an increase in the community's already high asthma
The New Republic looks at the anti-poverty initiatives in New
York City, including the 125th Street development. "I recognize
that, in order for this community to change, somebody's going
to have to make a buck," says city council member Phil Reed in
the article. "I don't have a problem with that." (New
In 1997, Philip Reed surprised a healthy field in East Harlem
politics. The candidates included Federico Colon, Wilma Sena,
Edwin Marcial, Jorge Vidro and Curtis Kirkman. (East