Bronx Times November Election Primer: What to know about your state Senate races

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The State Capitol in Albany, NY.
(AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

New York State Senate

Members of the state Senate are elected to two-year terms and make an annual salary of $110,000 plus per diem.

31st Senatorial District:
Incumbent: 
Robert Jackson (Democrat)
Challenger: Donald Skinner (Republican)

Robert Jackson has been winning elections while running on both the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines, which allows him to appeal to a wide net of the majority-Latino district that includes Washington Heights and Kingsbridge.

Jackson claimed the district seat in a 2018 landslide, succeeding Congress-bound Adriano Espaillat — whom he unsuccessfully challenged in 2014. But Jackson trounced an Espaillat-backed candidate in the August primaries.

A former school board president, Jackson runs marathons, successfully sued the state over school funding winning $16 billion for NYC public students, and is primed to retain his seat against relative political unknown Donald Skinner.

32nd State Senatorial District:
Incumbent: 
Luis Sepúlveda (Democrat)
Challengers: Antonio Melendez Sr. (Republican); Dion Powell (Conservative)

Luis Sepúlveda has had a windy political career that includes dropped domestic violence charges and an unsuccessful bid for the Bronx Borough President’s office. The Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican legislator — who recently was granted Dominican citizenship to the irking of some — has bolstered his efforts with growing Dominican communities in the east Bronx and into central Bronx neighborhoods.

New York’s 32nd Senate District, the south and central Bronx locale, includes the neighborhoods of Parkchester, Soundview, Mott Haven and Hunts Point.

Antonio Melendez Sr., the de facto Republican candidate has no information about his campaign online and Dion Powell, who in 2020 unsuccessfully bid for Chantel Jackson’s seat in the 79th Assembly District, aren’t expected to overcome the Democratic majority in the area.

34th State Senatorial District:
Challengers: Nathalia Fernandez (Democrat); Samantha Zherka (Republican)
This seat is open since incumbent Alessandra Biaggi vacated it*

When new maps reshuffled the Senate primaries incumbent Alessandra Biaggi nixed a reelection bid for an unsuccessful run at Congress.⁠ Soon after Biaggi’s announcement sitting Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez told the Bronx Times that she saw the reshuffled districts as a chance to bring “fire for the people” of Senate District 34.

Fernandez has long been a local presence in the 80th Assembly District rising from Mark Gjonaj’s chief of staff to a two-term assemblymember.

Senate District 34 includes the northeastern Bronx neighborhoods of City Island, Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, Country Club, Castle Hill, Parkchester and Clason Point, as well as the southern Westchester communities of Pelham, Pelham Manor and New Rochelle. It’s considered a strong Democratic district, with 65.8% of registered Democrats to 12.5% registered Republicans.

Samantha Zherka, an independent running on the Republican and Conservative lines, decided to seek office when she started to see New York City as if it was a “third-world country.”

*Gustavo Rivera, the 33rd Senate District incumbent, and Jamaal Bailey, 35th Senate District incumbent, are both running unopposed in the general election.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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