Tenant prez sounds off on 12th CD race

Robert Hall knows Gun Hill Road. The Gun Hill Houses tenant association president and Community Board 12 member is frank and opinionated. Hall recently weighed in on Larry Seabrook and the 12th Council District Democratic primary.

Disclaimer…Hall doesn’t represent all Gun Hill Houses residents, nor does he represent all CB12 members.

Seabrook, a two-term incumbent, is up against union organizer and youth worker Andy King, parent advocate Sebastian Ulanga and veteran law enforcement officer Jerome Rice. Seabrook would be out if not for Michael Bloomberg and the mayor’s 2008 term limits amendment.

Hall had his heart set on a Carmen Rosa campaign. The district manager for CB 12 opted not to run.

“She is by far the most astute and passionate person in the community,” Hall said. “She has the know-how and is in touch with the city agencies. I wish she had run.”

Hall has settled on King, an Olinville resident. Although he is an 1199 SEIU organizer, King hasn’t snagged an 1199 SEIU endorsement. The healthcare workers union wields power in the Bronx, particularly in Co-op City. 1199 SEIU has endorsed council candidates elsewhere in the borough and plans to pour troops into the 14th Council District. In a conversation on Friday, August 7, King admitted that he expected to earn an 1199 SEIU endorsement soon. Why the delay?

“I don’t know,” the former Evander Childs High School basketball standout said.

Hall is surprised that 1199 SEIU has chosen to wait on King but is unperturbed. Healthcare is only one issue, he said. The north Bronx has other needs. Hall thinks that Caribbean immigrants in the 12th Council District deserve more attention, for example.

Hall isn’t completely sold on King. In fact, he was interested in Trinidad-born candidate Krystal Serrano, a Co-op City resident booted off the ballot on Tuesday, August 4. The only woman to campaign in the 12th Council District is sure that Seabrook had her signatures invalidated.

“King will need some work,” Hall said. “But the word on the street is ‘We need a change.’ [Seabrook] has had his run. It’s time to give someone else a shot. You will hear that from the basketball court to the community board.”

More than one neighborhood organization has benefited from the Seabrook re-election effort. Not the Gun Hill Houses.

“[Seabrook] is taking care of some organizations from soup to nuts,” said Hall. “But there are so many other organizations that need assistance. Where is Larry Seabrook? Nowhere to be found. I need funding from the City Council.”

Hall was witness to a heated exchange between Seabrook and Rice. In January, he went with Rice and others to confront Seabrook about the potential closure of Housing Authority community centers. The candidates engaged in a shouting match; Rice posted a video on YouTube. The episode soured Hall on Seabrook and Rice.

“I was upset at Jerome,” Hall said. “He used the community center issue to lash out at Larry.”

Seabrook attempted to have Hall dismissed from CB12, Hall said. Seabrook will host a town hall meeting to discuss President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan at 2049 Bartow Avenue on Wednesday, August 19.

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