BronxNet hosts debates ahead of September 13th Democratic Primary

(l-r) Pamela Hamilton-Johnson, Jamaal Bailey, debate moderator Gary Axelbank, Rev. Ed Mulraine and Rev. Que English.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

An open senatorial seat in the northeastern part of the borough dominates the primary day landscape, but it’s not the only contest in the borough this year.

In the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 13, five candidates are vying to replace former Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson in the 36th Senate District, which includes the communities of Co-op City, Williamsbridge, Wakefield, Baychester and Eastchester, as well as Mt. Vernon.

Competing for that seat are Jamaal Bailey, Rev. Que English, Pamela Johnson, Rev. Edward Mulraine and Dr. Alvin Ponder.

BronxNet Public Access television sponsored a debate among the candidates in the district on Monday, August 29. Four of the five candidates participated.

Bailey, who has the backing of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, stressed during the debate his deep roots in the community and his experience as an aide to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I have significant experience in government, specifically in the state legislature,” said Bailey. “Having worked with Assembly Speaker Heastie, I feel that I know the ins and outs of government.”

Bailey has the endorsement of at least 16 unions, according to his website.

Mulraine, a former Williamsbridge NAACP president, said on BronxNet that he has a proven track record of experience in both the Bronx and Westchester parts of the district.

“I have the leadership qualities and a proven record stretching for over 30 years,” said Mulraine. “I think that proven leadership will be the key to determining who will be best when they get to the state senate.”

Johnson, a former Community Education Council 11 president, said that she was the candidate to vote for if voters want an education candidate.

Ponder, a member of Community Board 10, said in a BronxNet candidate statement that he would focus on healthcare-related issues.

BronxNet held debates for a number of primary races, including in the 33rd Senate District between Senator Gustavo Rivera and Councilman Fernando Cabrera, said Bronx Talk host Gary Axelbank, who moderated the debates.

BronxNet and Axelbank also hosted candidate forums for Ischia Bravo, running for the 78th Assembly District against the incumbent Jose Rivera and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo who is up for re-election in the 86th Assembly District, he said.

“I think it is vitally important for the democratic process,” said Axelbank of BronxNet’s hosting these debates. “Because these are local races, and most of the New York media doesn’t focus on these local races.”

He added: “voters have no other way to see the candidates speak on issues of importance.”

Pichardo, who is again facing Hector Ramirez who he defeated two years ago in a very tight race, said that he has debated and defended his policy positions and feels good moving forward.

He cited his accomplishments in securing member items for dental equipment for Union Community Health Care and for school programming.

He added that his opponent has skipped out on some of the debates, including the one at BronxNet .

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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