The 13th Congressional District Democratic primary is approaching, and the race couldn’t be more crowded.
Seven Democrats are running in the primary for a seat that encompasses a broad swath of the northwest Bronx, as well as upper Manhattan which has been represented for 42 years by retiring Congressman Charles Rangel.
Democratic party primary voters in the 13th District will go the polls on Tuesday, June 28.
Running to replace Rangel are well-known personalities Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Senator Adriano Espaillat, Michael Gallagher, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, Sam Sloan, former Democratic National Committee director Clyde Williams, and Assemblyman Keith Wright.
The June winner will face off against local attorney Tony Evans on the Republican line in the November general election.
The district Rangel represents was once more centered in Harlem’s African-American community in years past, but has become more diverse, and in the latest redistricting following the 2010 Census came to include Bedford Park, part of Fordham, Kingsbridge, Norwood and University Heights.
Espaillat currently represents a state senate district that is in the Manhattan portion of the congressional district. He lost his last two primary bids to unseat Rangel.
He believes he will prevail in the Manhattan portion of the district by an even greater margin than before.
The district’s biggest needs are jobs, housing and education, said Espaillat. He said he would open a satellite office in the Bronx if elected.
“From day one they will be getting constituent services right there in the Bronx, where I have my campaign office as well,” said Espaillat.
Wright and Johnson Cook, also pledged to open an office in the Bronx portion of the district.
Wright, the son of a New York State judge Bruce Wright, said that Borough President Diaz Jr. has done a great job in his handing of the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment, and that the borough is front and center in his own life.
“I was born in the Bronx at East 138th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue, went to the Fieldston School in Riverdale and I married a woman from Boynton Avenue,” said Wright. He said the district’s key needs are affordable housing and the reduction of student loan debt.
Johnson Cook, a former ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom in the Obama Administration and a past NYPD chaplain, grew up in Harlem and in Norwood, she said.
Her family operated a security business in Wakefield and she was a pastor in the borough, she added.
“It is not just coming home, it is being home,” said Johnson Cook of the borough, stressing her Washington D.C. experience in the Obama and Clinton administrations, and her work for Hillary Clinton.
In an AARP, Inc.-sponsored candidates’ debate on Monday, June 13, Williams spoke about long-term residents being displaced by soaring rents, while Linares said that district’s greatest challenge is the displacement of seniors and other groups due to rising rents.
During the debate, Sloan, a Morris Heights resident, said he favors the withdrawal of all troops fighting in the Middle East.
Gallagher celebrated the fact that is not a politician, proclaiming that political experience is not a necessary requirement and may even be a handicap.
During the debate Powell said he helped pass SCRIE, a law that shields low income seniors from rent increases.
Evans said the district’s relentless support of one party year after year has led to corruption and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.