Incumbent politicians see reelections and primaries in many different ways. Bronx Assemblymember Amanda Septimo told the Bronx Times she felt Tuesday’s primary felt like being a part of those childhood games where a student anxiously passes a note to another asking if they like them with a ‘yes or no’ response attached.
Luckily for Septimo, most of her South Bronx constituents checked the yes box, as a second term is could be all but guaranteed, as she cruised to a double-digit primary win over her two primary challengers.
With nearly 99% of scanners reporting Wednesday, Septimo holds a 49.7%-34.9% lead over challenger Alberto Torres, with a third candidate, Hector Feliciano running a distant third in the race, at 14.7%, according to unofficial tallies by the city Board of Elections.
“I think when you’re running for a seat the first time, you’re presenting a concept of change, an opportunity to lead and that first reelection is a referendum on how that’s going,” said Septimo, who has been civic-engaged in the Bronx dating back to 2005. “In this second term, there’s an opportunity to take that change and steer into community and power building, and make good on what’s been promised.”
District 84 encompasses the Hunts Point and Mott Haven neighborhoods, and The Hub. Septimo won the seat in 2020 by nearly 75 percentage points, defeating Republican challenger Rosaline Nieves.
Septimo’s first Assembly tenure included sponsoring successful bills relating to the emissions of toxic air contaminants — which directly impacts her district, one that has the highest asthma rates in the country.
In her second term, Septimo will attempt to gather consensus in her South Bronx communities, as residents grapple with everything from a city jail to systemic issues such as climate change and the city’s rising affordability crisis.
One of Septimo’s big goals for her second term is the passage of bill that would require methadone program facilities in the city to be proportionately disbursed and sited throughout the five boroughs.
There are an estimated 30,000-plus methadone patients in New York City, according to state data. However, many of the city’s methadone clinics and services are oversited in the Bronx and Harlem — an overabundance in the Hunts Points area — leaving areas of inaccessibility for methadone patients in Staten Island and Lower Manhattan.
Residents of the Bronx had the highest rate of overdose death in 2020 (48.0 per 100,000 residents) followed by residents of Staten Island (37.0 per 100,000 residents), Manhattan (25.2 per 100,000 residents), Brooklyn (21.1 per 100,000 residents), and Queens (19.9 per 100,000 residents).
“This is one of those bills that I can’t wait to get over the finish line because we know how the opioid crises has taken hold in NYC, and in the The Hub in particular,” said Septimo. “The South Bronx has a high concentration of these clinics, and we need to think about increasing that access for other boroughs, because there’s deleterious effect when we aren’t being conscious of where our services are and how many we are putting in certain communities.”
Septimo will face Nieves again this November in a rematch of the 2020 general election.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes