It was standing room only on a Saturday afternoon in March at a Melrose church known for its social activism streak, where residents came, hoping to hear the city’s mayoral candidates explain their positions on the issues.
There was only one problem: The three candidates considered frontrunners in next November’s election—City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson—were nowhere to be found.
Over 100 potential voters instead heard three other candidates—City Comptroller John Liu, standup comic Randy Credico and Green Party representative Anthony Gronowicz— state their cases, at the Resurrection Church on Elton Ave. and 158th St. on March 9.
The South Bronx Community Congress organized the event to acquaint residents with the candidates vying to represent them in City Hall.
Many expressed anger that Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson had ignored invitations to attend, saying it was an indication of the low regard in which the city’s power structure holds the South Bronx.
“I don’t know about you, but right now, I’m pissed off,” Pastor Kahli Mootoo of Bright Temple AME Church in Hunts Point bellowed into the mic, to sustained applause. “For them not to be here, I’m pissed off so bad, Monday morning I’m going to pick up the phone and I’m going to make some phone calls.”
One resident told the crowd that although politicians have long neglected the area, the buck stops with voters.
“We allow this stuff to happen to us,” said Rita Jones, of non-profit National Action Network’s Bronx division.