Money gap narrows in council race

City Council candidate Maria del Carmen Arroyo is closing the money gap with her challenger Julio Pabon, new filings with the city’s Campaign Finance Board show.<!–more–>

The finance board, which had withheld public funds from Arroyo’s campaign while she was embroiled in a dispute over the fraudulent signatures submitted on her nominating petitions, delivered $33,658 in matching funds to Arroyo on Aug. 28.

As a result, with two weeks to go before the Sept. 10 Democratic Primary, Pabon had $73,905 to spend, compared to Arroyo’s $50,603.

Pabon, who had previously reaped $48,397 in public money added only another $798 based on his most recent fund-raising from city residents.

Arroyo’s most recent contributors include the president of Lehman College Ricardo Fernandez, Marlene Citron, head of the Bronx Overall Development Corp., Arthur Aviles, artistic director of the Arthur Aviles dance troupe and the troupe’s executive director Charles Rice-Gonzalez, power broker Roberto Ramirez, the former head of the Bronx Democratic Party, and the party’s current top dog Carl Heastie.

She received bundled contributions from Narco Freedom, which operates several methadone clinics and drug dependency facilities in Mott Haven, and from contractors and real estate developers that do business in the area, headed by Touran Weissman, the wife of a developer, whose $2,500 contribution (of which $750 was returned for exceeding the legal limit) was the largest single donation.

All told Weissman, her husband Neill and their son have given $4,250 to the councilwoman. Jackson Development, which Neil Weissman heads, specializes in affordable housing, with a number of projects in the Bronx.

Pabon’s recent contributors include Ismael Betancourt, a former candidate for Bronx Borough President and Cecil Joseph, who was deputy borough president under Stanley Simon before Simon went to prison in a corruption scandal. His largest recent contribution, $350, came from Edwin Vega, a Legal Aid Society staff attorney.

Public funding is based on the number of contributions from city residents of $175 or less and provides up to $92,400 for council candidates.