Bronx Borough President Candidates Come On Strong In First Forum

Candidates Commit To Creating “Little Africa” District And

Pledge Financial Backing And Resources For The Community

On Saturday, January 9, LittleAfrica BronxNews hosted the first Bronx Borough President Candidate Forum in the 2021 municipal election cycle.  Participating candidates included New York City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, New York State Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez, City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson, Mr. Sammy Ravelo, City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr., and New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.  The Primary Election will be held in June and the General Election will be in November.

The successful forum was attended by thousands of viewers through ZOOM and Facebook.  Community interest was strong, generating hundreds of comments and questions and keeping the candidates engaged for three hours.  Candidates answered questions on a variety of topics, including a COVID-19 Recovery Plan, health care, immigration, small business support, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

There were two significant points of agreement.  All of the Borough President candidates agreed to support the creation of a “Little Africa District” in the Bronx.  The purpose of such a district would be to highlight the cultural and commercial enclave of African immigrants in the Bronx.  In addition, all of the candidates agreed to sustain the African Advisory Council 

The forum was hosted by Ms. Mona Davids, Publisher of LittleAfrica BronxNews, and Mr. Mohammed Mardah, Chairman of the African Advisory Council of the Bronx Borough President’s Office.  “The first candidate forum in the new year was quite insightful and informative.  The forum afforded the community the opportunity to know the candidates and their.positions on issues affecting Africans in the Bronx,” said Mr. Mardah.  The forum was co-sponsored by the Young African Network (YAN), Africans Help Desk, and Ranked Choice Voting NYC – Voter Education Training by Social Impact Strategies.

The Bronx Borough President Candidate Forum is part of the “Meet The Candidate” video series launched in July, 2020 by LittleAfrica BronxNews.  The series is part of the LittleAfrica BronxNews public information initiative regarding candidates seeking office in New York City during 2021.  We will also have candidate forums for Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, and all Bronx city council races.

During this Bronx Borough President candidate forum, candidates Fernandez and Sepulveda addressed the COVID pandemic.  “I secured anywhere between 12 and 14 sites throughout the county to ensure that people get tested,” said Sepulveda.  “That includes pop up sites, working with health and hospitals throughout the borough to make sure that people can go and get tested and protect themselves.” Fernandez highlighted vaccinations.  “I am the only candidate right now that served borough wide under Governor Cuomo when I was the Bronx representative in 2017,” she said.  “I found locations already where we can start having distribution sites that will reach low-income and minority communities.”

Candidate Ravelo pointed to the fact that the other candidates were all currently in government.  “Elected officials — the folks on this forum — you guys are the government,” he declared.  “You guys are the ones that are supposed to be there fighting for us …  There are five [Bronx] zip codes that yesterday were reported to be the highest in the City in COVID infections, over 10%.”

Candidates Cabrera and Salamanca focused on economic revitalization of local communities.  “We need … to revitalize our economy by first protecting essential workers, … creating jobs and creating stimulus grants for small businesses,” said Mr. Salamanca. Not loans but grants.”  Mr. Cabrera objected to New York City’s mistreatment of the Bronx.  “We have forsaken our restaurants … One percent of the loans were given to the Bronx by SBS [Small Business Services].  That’s a shame! … The City needs to do better.” 

The New York City Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) was a target of candidate Gibson: “I stand with tenants in opposing it [RAD] because of all the different issues and discrepancies that we found and the efforts to privatize NYCHA.”

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