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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Term Limits and City Council District 14

The City Council will decide at 2 p.m. tomorrow whether or not to extend term limits, after a last ditch effort to derail the vote failed. The latest count by NY1 has 18 council members favoring an extension, 23 against, and 10 undecided. But supporters and opponents of the bill say Speaker Christine Quinn (who supports an extension) wouldn’t have scheduled the vote unless she was confident of securing a majority.

Here in the west Bronx, a “yes” vote would allow Council member Maria Baez (District 14) to run again, and potentially serve another four years. Baez says she’s in favor of an extension because it would “give an opportunity for members like myself to finish projects."

Predictably, the up-and-comers eyeing her seat (which under current laws would become vacant at the end of 2009) see things differently.

“I don’t think you can change them because one person wants to stay in power,” said Hector Ramirez, in reference to Mayor Bloomberg. “If you want a change you have to go again to the people [for a referendum]. If people say yes, then ok, but not because of one person.”

Ramirez, currently a district leader, is one of three individuals in the 14th District to have filed financial disclosure forms with the city’s Campaign Finance Board - the others being Yudelka Tapia and Haile Rivera. All are of Dominican origin. Never before has there been a Bronx council member from the DR.

Reached by phone earlier this week, Rivera, a community activist who suspended his campaign in June to work as field organizer for the Obama's campaign, argued against a term limit extension, saying the wishes of New Yorkers should be respected. “Twice they voted against extending them,” he said. “These votes should count, otherwise what’s the point in voting?”

Tapia didn’t respond to phone messages seeking her term limit position. But she's probably playing close attention: in many ways, her City Council campaign is further along than the others. She’s the only candidate, for example, with a campaign Web site.

According to her online biography, Tapia's a senior auditor for the city, the president of The Great Alliance Democratic Club, a Bronx State Committee member, and a tenants’ rights advocate, among other things. Politically, she's more experienced than both Rivera and Ramirez, having run for the same City Council seat in 2001, and then the 86th Assembly seat in 2002 (both unsuccessfully).

Unlike her rivals, who are supporting Carl Heastie and the "Rainbow Rebels" in their efforts to de-throne Party Chairman Jose Rivera, Tapia hasn’t taken sides – at least not publicly. One elected official told me she’s fence-sitting. But she's clearly close to the party boss, or has been in the past. In a July press release, sent out in support of Assembly candidate and fellow Dominican Nelson Castro (who defeated the Rebel-backed Mike Soto in September's primary), Tapia praised Rivera, citing his willingness to reach across racial boundaries – the very thing the Rebels say he’s failed to do. Her release said: “Mr. Rivera and other Puerto Rican Democratic Leaders in The Bronx have always acknowledged the contributions and rights of the Dominican community."

Tapia, then, could be in a tough spot. If term limits are extended (as looks likely) and Jose Rivera is ousted (also likely), she could end up facing an incumbent (Baez), as well as a candidate (either Ramirez or Haile Rivera) with backing from the party's new leadership.

Haile Rivera, it should be said, says he’s unsure if he’ll revive his campaign when he returns to the Bronx. “At the moment I’m focusing 110 percent on Obama,” he said. (So things are looking pretty good for Ramirez, as it stands.)

Of course, there’s still a long was to go: the election isn't until November 2009. But tomorrow’s term limit vote, and the outcome of the Bronx leadership battle, will play an important role in deciding District 14’s next council member.

Other term limit news: As we reported earlier, Adolfo Carrion, the borough president and former District 14 council member, has dropped his support for a term-limit extension, after billionaire Ronald Lauder told The Times the extension should only apply to council members currently serving their second term.


  1. A huge over site in this article is another candidate for District 14, community leader and Pastor Dr. Fernando Cabrera, who indeed has launched a campaign to run for District 14. Dr. Cabrera has also launched a website (www.fernandocabrera.us) and is currently on his way to raising the funds for his campaign. This is a crucial over site in that his influence and service in the community is quite possibly something that will allow him to become a crucial candidate for this up and coming election. From what I have observed not only does he complete projects within his community as a pastor in service to the community, but he has a strong backing of leadership behind him who get things done. His congregation continues to thrive as well as his connections and influence among other congregations in the Bronx area. I would check out his website...

  2. I agree Dr. Cabrera has been working and reaching out to the community for the last 20 years. It's time for a change and to bring Dr. Cabrera, to take over this community. I encourage everyone to visit fernandocabrera.us and read it for yourself. SUPPORT DR. CABRERA!

  3. Everybody knows Pastor Cabrera around our way. He hooks up with a synagogue every year to clean up our park and plant bulbs for the spring. He's also headed up lots of community concerts for youth, giving the neighborhood kids games, toys, bikes and even basketball courts. He's always fighting to bring good things in our community.. Fighting to bring youth centers and media labs and stuff like that. If he's running, then He's got my vote.. Thanks to Anonymous for the link.. Im going to check out that website now.

  4. Like a lot of things with politics this article is missing the important issues and important pieces. It is missing one of the “the up-and-comers,” Dr. Cabrera. Dr Fernando Cabrera has been a pillar in the community where he Pastors. Since he has been there he and the people who he has behind him have worked tirelessly in effecting change to the community. The drug dealers who once owned the corners have moved away. He has organized a rally to acquire the old Fordham Library, and he is involved with the renovations of the neighborhood parks. I really don’t know how this article could miss out such an substantial factor of the 2009 election. Check out www.FernandoCabrera.us and see for yourself.

  5. Yudelka Tapia is undoubtedly the most experienced candidate in the race. She has the spent the last 20 years working with elected officials, labor unions and grassroots organizations to bring changes to the people in her community. She is an advocate for voter, tenant and immigrant rights and has played crucial leadership roles in the PTA organizations of her four son's public schools. Being an identifying member of her community and a true resident of district 14 is what sets her apart. She is not running based on who her opponents her; she is running to continue to do what she has done her entire life: work to bring solutions to her neighbors.

  6. I was wondering why when you shop at the New Targets or any of the others new stores on River Avenue you have to pay for parking, I have been to targets, Marshalls and all the other stores in the new mall and have never paid to to park-- I think we should check into to this

    Concered Shopper


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