Incumbent beats back challenger to win third term
Voters sent Maria del Carmen Arroyo back to represent them in the New York City Council, swamping challenger Julio Pabon by a 2-1 margin.
“It’s a relief to know that the good work that she does for District 17 is recognized,” said Ricardo Aguirre Jr., Arroyo’s son, and a paid consultant to her campaign.
“When somebody is going around campaigning and spraying anything he can think of to besmirch her name, fine, go ahead,” he said, sneering at Pabon’s accusations that she engineered a massive fraud to get on the ballot.
Despite the drubbing—with 97 percent of the votes counted on Wednesday morning, Pabon had 1,965 votes to Arroyo’s 4,249–Pabon was upbeat. “No matter what happens, we already won,” he said, as he watched the returns at Yolanda’s Restaurant on 149th Street.
“I spent a lot of time in the community, so much time out on the streets, talking to people,” he continued. “The results might not show it, we didn’t win the seat, but we won a new movement.”
Among voters interviewed, views varied. “I voted for Pabon because he campaigned as hard as he could with no money, basically a grassroots campaign, and I saw a lot of him around my area,” said Mott Haven resident Billy Cobb, 55.
But Mott Haven resident Tawana Airen, 42, voted for Arroyo even though she said “Arroyo, I never see her out here,” because, “People say that she’s good. Hopefully the stuff they talk about, the issues they discuss and they’re willing to address, I hope they stand behind those and do what they say they’re gonna do.”
District lines were redrawn earlier this year, putting Arroyo’s previous Mott Haven constituency in the 8th Council District, but she will continue representing Melrose, Hunts Point and Longwood.
Arroyo ran on her eight-year record in the Council, during which she ranked 13th among the 51 members in bringing discretionary funding to the district, according to a study by the non-partisan watchdog organization Citizens Union.
While Pabon claimed that much of that money went to developers or to non-profits that had ties to her or her supporters, Aguirre maintained that Arroyo’s accomplishments, including installation of more safety cameras throughout the Mott Haven area and improved school funding, spoke for themselves.
“We had absolutely no doubt that the people of the 17th district know that they have a city councilwoman that has their back,” he said.