2021 Elections: Who’s running for City Council in the 17th District?

It’s an interesting time for the Bronx’s political landscape as a majority of the borough’s city council have either termed-out or announced they will not be seeking re-election.

The south Bronx’s district 17, which encompases the neighborhoods of Concourse Village, Crotona Park East, East Tremont, Hunts Point, Longwood, Melrose, Morrisania, Port Morris, and West Farms is one of few where an incumbent is seeking reelection – he is councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr.

Courtesy of John Zaccaro

“The city and our borough will look very different next year with a new Mayor, Comptroller, Borough President, and nearly entirely new Bronx delegation to the City Council. I intend to use my knowledge and experience in delivering results for South Bronx families to help my new colleagues across the Bronx unite to bring real progress and tangible results to help our Borough recover from the pandemic,” he said.

Salamanca, who has served on the council since 2016 was born and raised in the south Bronx, he’s previously served as district manager for Community Board 2, president of the 41st Precinct Community Council, and has sat on the boards of both the Community Healthcare Network and Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation.

He has also spent over a dozen years working in healthcare where he aimed to “expand access for low-income and working families throughout the Bronx.”

“I am running for re-election because I love this community, and I believe I can do more to ensure all of my neighbors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive. The last year has been incredibly challenging, and as one of the hardest-hit communities in the city, our road to recovery is daunting, and I know that I bring the right leadership and experience to deliver the resources and support we need,” Salamanca said.

The incumbent noted that recovering from COVID-19 is the largest issue his district is facing currently.

“Recovering from the pandemic – physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically — is one of the most pressing issues facing our community. Throughout the pandemic, I have worked to demand greater support from the city to ensure we get the resources we deserve,” Salamanca said.

“I will continue to work to address the inequities that are impacting our vaccination efforts and support efforts to save our small businesses and protect jobs. Beyond that, healthcare access, food insecurity, affordable housing, schools, and safety are challenges facing our community,” he added.

The councilman also stated during his time in city hall he has had a “strong record of utilizing smart development to build over 7,000 affordable housing units in (Bronx) communities, secured resources to improve healthcare and food access.”

Salamanca continued, citing he helped deliver meals to over 50,000 families during the pandemic while also investing in Bronx schools, and allocating resources in community groups working to prevent crime.

“It is the honor of the lifetime to serve the community that raised me and to fight for you in the City Council. As we confront the challenges facing us, from our recovery from COVID to overcoming the economic recession to confronting systemic inequality, I am ready to continue delivering for the 17th District,” Salamanca said.

Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. is endorsed by Congressmember Ritchie Torres, Assemblymember Karines Reyes, Assemblymember Kenny Burgos, Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ SEIU, NYC Central Labor Council, CWA (Communication Workers of America) District 1, LIUNA! NY – Laborers, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, DC37, UFT (United Federation of Teachers), and CSA (Council of School Supervisors and Administrators).

There are also three candidates opposing Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr.

That trio who will also be running in the Tuesday, June 22 primary are: Helen Hines, Lattina Brown, and Glennis Sanchez.

The Bronx Times asked each candidate a few questions to get to know them. Each profile has been edited for clarity and space.

Helen Hines

Courtesy of Helen Hines

Why are you running?

I am running to improve the lives of the people and give hope in District 17. I have spent my life being a problem solver and a public servant. I have a proven track record of bringing people together to make a better tomorrow.

Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in?

As the oldest in my family, I came to district 17 as a single parent, who raised three daughters. I worked for 1199 SEIU, the largest Healthcare union in the United States. I held various leadership positions and worked on numerous political campaigns. Most recently, I held a position as a Chief of Staff for a City Council member. Now, I am retired and ready to hit the ground running as the next City Council member of District 17.

What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

The biggest challenges are:  Affordable housing: I plan to have meaningful discussions with developers regarding the application requirement thresholds in District 17. The threshold is currently over the annual salary income of the residents in District 17 and they need a leader that will help the community fight for affordable housing!

Education: I will advocate for sufficient funding to provide quality education in our underserved schools. I will start an initiative to add work-trade programs back into the school system, in addition to, more STEM related progress. I will also push the schools to focus on college prep.

Healthcare: I will advocate for access to quality healthcare in the Bronx regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Jobs: I will advocate for the creation of job programs and career preparation.

Public safety: I will advocate for funding programs for a safer community and help build a successful police-community relationship.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

I will be more visible. Physically go into schools to see how I can help. Spend office hours to accommodate the residents and address their problems. Hold town hall meetings in various parts of the district. 6.

What’s your political experience?

My experience is vast, most recently as the Chief of Staff for a City Council member.

The hands on experience I gained working as a chief of staff has prepared me more than any experience for a City of Council seat. On a daily basis, I answered the concerns of the constituents. Also, as a leader in 1199SEIU, I have campaigned in several key elections.

My first experience was my own campaign as a 1199 administrative organizer. I was a co-campaign manager in the election of Annabel Palma District 18 as a Council member. I was a campaign manager for the late Mayor David Dinkins and Herman Carl McCall at 1199 headquarters. I also served as the covering Political Action Director at 1199 SEIU. I was a campaign manager in the election of Bill de Blasio. Additionally, I assisted campaign manager Bill Lynch in Maureen Walker’s campaign for Mayor of Mount Vernon, New York.

These are just a few of the political experiences I have obtained over the years. The culmination of them have prepared me for this moment to run for City Council in District 17.

What endorsements do you have?

I am currently accepting endorsements at this time.

Lattina Brown

Courtesy of Lattina Brown

Why are you running?

I am a single mom that fully understands what the district is lacking because I face the same battles. I was born in New York and come from an immigrant family of Jamaica. I have lived in the Bronx for over 18 years and witnessed landlords displacing many immigrant families and senior citizens from their homes. My district alone has the largest immigrant population in Bronx county mostly mothers. I relate to the women and families in my district because we are all facing the issues of rent burden, deplorable housing conditions, gun violence and environmental injustice. If I am elected, I will be the first Afro-Caribbean female to represent the district.

Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in?

I am a single afro-Caribbean mother, tenant leader, community advocate and activist running for city council, district 17, Bronx, NY. I work for the Office of General Counsel-City Council and I am a member of the National Latino Peace Officers Association. I currently live in the Hunts Point neighborhood that has a very large population of immigrants, senior citizens, and single parent household. As council woman I will work with the residents of the community and listen to their concerns. Having an open dialogue is very important.

What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

The top issues:

Unemployment-District 17 residents need more job opportunities in their own district. Advocate for business owners to hire from within the district. Pass legislation that stops discrimination against low-level non-violent felons from being turned down from job opportunities throughout the five boroughs.

Small Business-Support the small business job survival act which was originally presented in (Int 0737-2018).

Housing- I would ensure that based on the income of resident within the district affordable housing should fall into that criteria. Home ownership opportunities is needed in the community with a grant program offered to first time homebuyers.

Environment-Create sustainable housing, address the pollution and illegal dumping in Hunts Point and longwood area, green public space is needed and re-locate trucks to a different route to avoid further pollution in the community. Bike lanes is necessary to avoid pollution in the community.

COVID-19- I fully support the pandemic action plan.

Education-Fully fund schools and programs. I will not support a budget that disenfranchises the low-income families. I say NO to budget cuts in education. Our children deserve the best education!

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Funding should be awarded to organizations that are in the community and not given to outside agencies or businesses outside of the district. The funding should stay in the community to create job opportunities for the residents. For example: paying outside agencies to do what people or organizations that live in the community takes food out of the mouths of the babies in our community. The district needs a leader who will represent all people as a unit and not divide us.

What’s your political experience?

My experience is in supporting my community, supporting my family and creating a safe, sustainable community. All those actions are what a public servant should do which is a politician.

What endorsements do you have?

Democracy of America, National Latino Peace Officer Association Advocacy, Community Advocate Anthony Herbert, Community Advocate Shabir Gul, more endorsements pending… More importantly the biggest endorsement comes from the residents in district 17, and I am happy to have their support.

Glennis Sanchez

Courtesy of Glennis Sanchez

Why are you running?

I am running for me, for my children, and for my grandchildren. I am running because I live in
the community; my friends and family live and work in the community. I want to see better for
our District which is often said and it’s difficult to make happen but this is my neighborhood and I
want to make it better for us.

I want to see better programs for domestic violence survivors, I’ve been there too. I want to see
better community centers for the youth like PAL. I want to see more job opportunities and I want
to see more access to certification programs to help those within the community gain job
opportunities. I want to see more NYPD presence to ensure the safety of our community
members.

Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in?

I am Glennis Sanchez and I am running for the 17th District. I am a single parent of 3
beautiful women. I am also a grandparent of 2 amazing little boys and a girl. I live in the
community of the Mott Haven area of the South Bronx ; I am a bronxite too.
I first came to the United States when I was 8 years old and though my journey did not begin in
the Bronx I have been a proud bronxiet for over 20 years.

I work with supremateve.com as a radio personality and host. During the week I also help my
grandchildren with school and enjoy every moment of watching them grow up.
I graduated from Monroe College located on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx (one of the first
neighborhoods I resided in) with a masters degree in business administration and an associates
degree in criminal justice.

What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

The challenges our community faces are poverty, lack of job opportunities, defunding of
community centers (for the elderly and for the youth) and high crime rates.
If we fund our community centers we can build in experiences for many and create job
opportunities to aid in our poverty issue. Creating opportunity for our youth to deter from criminal
behaviors and activities.

I hope to aid in our housing and shelter system to address the issue of homelessness. We see it
because we live day in and day out; we try our best to progress especially now during this
pandemic. There are not many jobs in the community at the moment, this is also a factor in the
crime rates. I believe we can regain and maintain funding for the NYPD to reduce the criminal
element.

I want to see our district prosper as well as the entire Bronx and NYC as a whole. I want to be
part of the change in the community. I am willing to take all the Nos until I get a Yes with any
beneficial opportunities to help build a better Bronx for us all.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Every politician promises the same about making a difference. I don’t just want to say I will
make a difference; I want to be a part of the difference. I want to interact with the community not

only for community events. I want to make sure my community knows I am here “in the fight” to make our District better.

I want the people in District 17 to know I live and work in the area just like them. And I want to
be their voice and let them know they are being heard. I want to continue seeing our community
progress. I want to make sure I am available, present, and interactive. I, Glennis Sanchez,
promise to work twice as hard as anyone else because I want to see a brighter Bronx.

What’s your political experience?

My political experience may not be as extensive as most but I know about 3 sides of the
campaign especially as a voter, and now candidate. In 2010 I worked as a poll watcher
(investigator) for District 86. What that entailed was to ensure voters were not conducting any
fraudulent activity. As well as document and tally votes and generate a daily report.
I have been a poll clerk inspector/scanner for the Board of Elections in the City of New York
since 2012. I also campaigned 4 years ago for the District 17 council seat. I hope to win and be
part of the change we need in our community.

What endorsements do you have?

The endorsements I have secured thus far are mostly from our communities.
● The Juicer Shack located at 1086 Southern Blvd
● Cristina J. Felix Beauty Salon located at 1082 Southern Blvd
● Chocolate located at 1402 Saint Nicholas
● H2One care (hand sanitizer)
● Francisco Spies (Retired Minister)

As I continue to campaign for the District 17 council seat I hope to gain even more support from
the hard workers in our community and more.

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