Who’s running in the primary for city council District 12?

As New York City prepares for one of its largest election cycles in recent memory, there is one city council race that will directly impact the northeast Bronx’s District 12, which encompasses the neighborhoods of  Wakefield, Baychester, Eastchester, Olinville, Co-op City, Edenwald, and Williamsbridge There are three candidates in the June 22 primary. They are: incumbent Kevin Riley, Pamela Johnson and Shanequa Moore.

These profiles have been edited for clarity and length.

Kevin Riley

Why are you running?

I am running for re-election to continue representing the people of the 12th City council district in City Hall. I believe my motivation for running derives from the very people of this community who have had a hand in grooming me into the man I am today. Being a life long Bronxite and a native son of the 12th district, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and I believe I am the leader that can make the changes we need and deserve. From COVID relief to making education a priority, I believe that with the backing of our community, I am the right candidate for the job.

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

I love my community. I’ve lived in the 12th district my entire life, which is 33 years. The neighborhood has been so influential in my life from working at the NYPL Gunhill Branch to attending church at Butler United Methodist and now representing my neighborhood in City Hall as the newly elected Council Member for the 12th district. I am currently raising my family in the same house I lived in my entire life, located in the Baychester area of the 12th District. I love adding value to my community through my love for public service. I am a founding member of The Dad Gang, Her Story Her Space and Music over Violence. Mentorship has always been a crucial component to my development, which has led me to be apart of several mentorship groups including MBK.

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

The biggest issues in our community right now have been exacerbated due to COVID.  We need to focus on how we will be able to assist families and small businesses impacted by this pandemic.

The next issue is tackling healthcare access for all.  During this pandemic we have witnessed first hand that access to quality care is important. Here in the Bronx, we have high rates of asthma and many other diseases seen as comorbidities that can result in negative outcomes when paired with COVID-19 transmission

Lastly, I believe education is another issue pertinent to the 12th district.. The pandemic has once again shed light on the inequities present in our public education system.  Many families are without the resources needed to successfully participate in effective online learning, exposing the digital divide.

What’s your political experience?

Since 2008, I have worked under the leadership of the present Speaker of the NYS Assembly Carl Heastie. I started as an intern in his district office, then became a constituent liaison, followed by office manager and lastly, Community Relations Director. I am also the male district leader for the 83rd assembly district. And recently this year, I became the newly elected Council member for District 12

What endorsements do you have?

Hotel Trades, DC 37, 32BJ SEIU, CWA District, NYSNA, Ironworkers, Immigration Coalition, Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Senator and Bronx County Chairman Jamaal Bailey, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Pamela Johnson

Why are you running?

It is time for a CHANGE! Community residents feel disconnected and disenfranchised they see politicians as unscrupulous individuals that have done nothing for their community accept line their pockets. People have seen our community decline everyday they walk outside to go to work. Stepping over garbage pan handlers on White Plains Road, increase crime, and drugs that can be bought on any corner. The quality of life is deteriorating and people want change. Businesses cannot afford to pay the exorbitant rent on top of the commercial property tax they pay to landlords. Which contributes to the food deserts in our community.

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

I have been the Executive Director and founder for 20+ years at Urban Neighborhood Educational Technology for You, Inc. 501 C (3). Concurrently, for 13 years I have been the Executive Director of the Eastchester Heights Community Center and most recently since 2018 I have been a consultant for the DOE Family Engagement and Community Empowerment (FACE).  These positions have all been in the Bronx.

I grew up in a NYCHA development where there were drugs and crime.  I have resided in the North East Bronx Williamsbridge section for over 40 years.  Met and married my husband from the Edenwald projects and raised my family in a Mitchell Lama development off 222nd and White Plains Road.

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

The biggest problem for our district right now is the pandemic, zip codes 10466,10467,10469 and 10475 had the highest rates in the US. Yet we only have one testing site that is at Co-op City. Co-op city is so big that it needs its own site. There must be another site for the rest of the district. I would release the portion of vaccine to the areas that have been hit the hardest and has the most cases. We must extend the mortarium on renters, give landlords of small commercial units of 10 or lower interest free loans and tax credits. Pass the Small Business jobs Survival Act and throw a lifeline to small business. We must upgrade the technology and ventilation systems in our school buildings. Vaccinate teachers and students to eradicate COVID-19 in the school environment.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

The incumbent has taken $70,000 from Voters of NYC an undercover Real Estate group run by Jeffery Leb. This group single handedly pulls the strings of politicians. This is pay to play, and Kevin will should buy stock in shoe repair because he’ll be doing a lot of dancing to pay of that $70,000. At the end of the day the community loses its voice with Kevin C. Riley at the helm.

I will honor my oath to the community and not take dark money.  I will be a candidate with cleans hands not bought and sold to the highest bidder. Council District 12 deserves better leadership with integrity and transparency. My conscience would not let me run for this office, if I was beholden to special interest.

What’s your political experience?

I have been Elected to the School Board on the elementary and High School level. As President we brought in $449 Million dollars to our district we built six schools in eight years and received “RESO A” monies totaling $23 million dollars. I was Elected to the 47th Precinct Community Council and DYCD’s Neighborhood Advisory Board where we gave out close to 1.2million dollars to community-based organizations in Council District 12.

What endorsements do you have?

I am being endorsed by 21 in 21 – From the devastation of a global pandemic to the inspiring groundswell of the Black Lives Matter movement, we must ensure women are fully represented on the NYC City Council, leading us toward a more just and equitable future.

Shanequa Moore


Why are you running?

I am running for public office to bring diversification and change to my district. New leadership and a new vision is needed, we need bold and innovative leaders who will ethically and fearlessly advocate for the needs of people of color. As a licensed social worker and nonprofit leader, I understand how to connect with and uplift people and how to advocate for equitable policies and I know City Hall will gain tremendously from my expertise.

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

For 20 years, I have advocated for the needs of children & families. I started and founded a non-profit organization, I’RAISE Girls & Boys which has become a beacon of hope to over 10,000 youth of color over the past 8 years. I have secured over $1 million in funding for core education and youth programs. I am an active member of CB 12 and the 3rd Youth Vice President of NCNW in D12, I am an active member of the National Association of Social Workers NYC, where I spearhead citywide initiatives on addressing systemic racism and oppression in the social work profession.

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

The biggest challenges are community safety, affordable housing and public education. I will work in collaboration with the NYPD, faith based community and CBOs to develop community based initiatives and strategies to reduce crime. I will ensure affordable housing units are rented to families who need them and fight to maintain affordable housing units, I am also advocating for low-income housing units in my district.

I have been working on initiatives to reimagine public school education for the past 8 years and will continue to do so with innovative curriculum, school based counseling support, STEM, art and music competitive opportunities for public school students, college preparation and trade programs.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Our district needs a leader, not a politician, who will be authentic and transparent and put their needs before anything, I will do that. I will ensure everyone is included at the decision making table. I will bring my expertise as a licensed social worker and nonprofit leader and introduce legislation that helps our city recover from COVID—and that pushes District 12 forward.

What’s your political experience?

I have served in public service for over 8 years as a State Representative with the New York State Office of Children & Family Services where I enforced legislation on health and safety in early childhood programs.

I led top investigations and high profile cases of child abuse in conjunction with Albany (New York State Judges and Lawyers). This position gave me a clear understanding of state and city policy and how the two connect and work together.

What endorsements do you have?

As a grassroots campaign, the core and base of my endorsements are voters and community leaders. One can only expect the incumbent to be handed endorsements by unions and PACs when a part of the political machine and backed by the party. I am proud however, to be endorsed by dozens of influential community leaders and faith based leaders and have the backing and support of the voters of my district.

More from Around NYC