After a tumultuous encounter with the Board of Elections, only three candidates running for the 16th District City Council, covering parts of the West and South Bronx, succeeded in garnering a spot on the primary ballot. Incumbent Helen Foster, Carlos Sierra and Mark Escoffery-Bey made the cut while longtime contender, Daryl Johnson, fell out of the race due to a challenge to his petition signatures (see more about the process here).
Johnson was not the only candidate forced to maneuver through the complexities of the petitioning process. Both Sierra and Escoffery-Bey went to court last week to argue the validity of their petition signatures. By the end of the week, Sierra and Escoffery-Bey complied over 900 legitimate petitions and made it on the ballot while Johnson came up short in the numbers and was booted off of the ballot.
Now that the ballot is secure, candidates are honing in on their campaigns and making one final push to win over voters.
Helen Foster has yet to respond to phone calls, but she is backed by the Bronx Democratic Party and appears to focusing her campaign on her level of experience in City Council, according to her website. Foster has served two-terms as a City Council representative for District 16. Over Foster’s years on City Council, she has made headlines for, among other things, voting against the new Yankee Stadium and missing the vote on congestion pricing.
The neighborhood surrounding Yankee Stadium is also an issue for one of Foster’s opponents, Carlos Sierra. Sierra’s campaign manager, Andrew Lisko, said Sierra hopes to “put pressure on the Yankee organization to ensure the expansion of green space” such as parks and not the “turf fields” the developers put up instead of natural areas.
Another major issue for Sierra is education. As a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees, Sierra secured millions of dollars to improve education and has experience in dealing with politicians in the education field. Lisko said Sierra “wants more parental influence at the Board of Education and he wants to improve the mayor’s test standards.”
Lisko said that Sierra will be an effective councilman because “he is in touch with the people. Helen Foster saw term limits were coming her way and she slowed down in the last few years. Foster has a 68% attendance rate [at council meetings and hearings]. Sierra will really be involved and known around the neighborhood as a full time city council member.”
Another candidate on the ballot is political newcomer, Mark Escoffery-Bey. Escoffery-Bey has been involved with the community as the vice president of the parent association of PS109 in Morris Heights, but he has yet to hold a political office.
At his petition hearing last week, he expressed his confidence in his ability to win the primary election. He explained that his campaign speed is increasing on an almost vertical path while Foster’s campaign speed is only at a slight incline. As for how he will improve the community, Escoffery-Bey says that he will “time travel.” In essence, this means that he pictures the solution to the community’s problem and works backwards from this image to achieve it.As for campaign finances, Helen Foster has a comfortable lead in the monetary department with $55, 300 and is tailed by Carlos Sierra with $14, 535 and Mark Escoffery-Bey with $9, 072.