On Saturday, Yudelka Tapia and her supporters held a press conference outside Pastor Fernando Cabrera's house in Pelham, Westchester. We had a post about this on Friday, which has generated quite a few comments. Here's a follow-up press release from Tapia, sent after the event:
I am here in suburban Pelham New York to ask Mr. Fernando Cabrera why he believes that as a member of this community he would be better able to represent the people of NYC’s 14th City Council District than a true resident of the West Bronx.
We are here to ask him why he believes that state laws should be ignored again as was done by Senator Pedro Espada. It is of little surprise that just like Senator Espada Mr. Cabrera is also a life long Republican masquerading as a Democrat.
We are proud that Mr. Cabrera has achieved great economic success in his life and has been living an affluent life in this wealthy suburb for all these years. But the facts can not be refuted. He does not pay taxes in NYC and his children did not attend our schools
We can only assume that the Bronx Democratic leadership was not aware of Mr. Cabrera’s deception when they displayed their preference for him last month.
Information has reached this campaign that as of a few weeks ago Mr. Cabrera was still reflecting his Pelham address in business and campaign related transactions.
The 14th Council District has already suffered with the absence of City Council Member Maria Baez who is rated as the Council Member with the worst attendance record. How much worse would it be if we elect a REPUBLICAN FROM PELHAM?
We've left voice messages for Cabrera asking for his reaction. When we hear back, we'll post his comments here. In a recent interview with the Norwood News, though, Cabrera said he moved to the Bronx last July and lives at 2792 Sedgwick Ave. - in the confines of the 14th Council District - with his wife and son. While he still owns his house in Pelham, he said his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren reside there - not him.
Some additional thoughts and clarifications:
Cabrera has admitted to being a registered Republican until recently. But he didn't vote in September's Republican primaries, according to Patrick Jenkins, a spokesman for the Bronx Democratic Party - contrary to what Tapia is claiming.
Tapia's camp didn't like the word "protest" that we used in the original post. From an e-mail:
We understand that the word protest, as stated in the headline, is not factually incorrect but it might send the wrong message to the readers of Bronx News Network. Tapia and Bronx residents held a peaceful and low key press conference. Ms. Tapia read her statement and Bronx residents stood behind her outside of Cabrera’s home with signs for about 15 minutes. When she finished her statement everyone left.
If you can't read the signs in the photo above - it's a little washed out - some of them suggest Cabrera voted for John McCain, rather than Barack Obama, in the presidential election. For example, "Cabrera no voto por Obama" and "Fernando Cabrera voto por e Republicano McCain" and "Fernando Cabrera did not vote for President Obama." In a later e-mail, however, Tapia's communications director, Elias Alcantara, said she didn't know how Cabrera voted. "We have found no record of him having voted in the Nov. of 08 election therefore we can not conclude if he voted for Obama or McCain," she wrote.
Update: Cabrera has previously told the Bronx News Network that he was a big Obama supporter and says he takes the "Obama view" on gay marriage, meaning he's for civil unions.
Update 3:30 p.m.: Just spoke to Fernando Aquino, a spokesman for Cabrera's campaign. He said Cabrera was born in the Bronx and has lived here, on-and-off, for more than 10 years - longer than he lived in Westchester.
He said he doesn't know if Cabrera voted in the Republican primaries, but even if he did it shouldn't be an issue. "He used to be a Republican, he's not hiding that," Aquino said, adding that he switched allegiance because "Democratic values were his values."
Of Tapia's press conference, Aquino said: "His [Cabrera's] campaign will welcome any discussion on the issues, but we will not get distracted by unfounded allegations."
Oh, and Aquino said Cabrera voted for Obama in the election, not McCain.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Elias Alcantara. Tapia is holding the mic.