Safety and jobs top George Alvarez’ City Council campaign concerns
George Alvarez sat back in his campaign office above his home on Elton Ave. in Melrose and asked a rhetorical question: Why are people not interested in politics, to the point that none of the GOP’s top three presidential candidates this year are political lifers?
“I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” said Alvarez, one of nine candidates running for Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s open 17th District City Council seat. “Voters are tired of traditional politics. They understand business. They need someone who struggled like them, who knows what it’s like to wake up early and go to work.”
George Alvarez insists that’s him in a nutshell, adding that voters “don’t need the machine. More and more people are getting elected who aren’t part of traditional politics.”
Alvarez, who came to the US from the Dominican Republic to study for an MA in Political Science at Columbia, says he’s the candidate to break the cycle of politics-as-usual in the South Bronx. If elected, he says voters “won’t need to talk to three or four people in the middle to get access to me. I live right in the district. I go shopping at the supermarket on 158th and Third every day.”
In 2013, Alvarez ran for the 79th Assembly seat in 2013, garnering 1,173 votes in the Democratic primary. That placed him third, with 22.7 % of the vote, despite the lack of name recognition or major endorsements.
This time, too, Alvarez is moving ahead without expecting the support of any major backers, but says that “God and the voters” have his back.
“I don’t owe anything to traditional politics,” said the candidate, who has served as vice president of the Washington Heights-based political action group Democrats in the Heights. More recently, he says he has helped low-income Bronxites secure home loans through a group called the Coalition for a New Future in the Bronx, and says he is striving to provide children a musical education through Child With a Violin, a group he says provides lessons for students.
When not busy running for office, Alvarez runs a software development company he says supplies its product to politicians in countries around the world.
Alvarez boils the district’s concerns down to three main ones: public safety, unemployment and affordable housing. The way to bring down Mott Haven’s rising crime rates while simultaneously making a dent in unemployment is to provide young people with more educational opportunities, particularly through vocational programs, he said. “For every business that opens, two businesses close,” he says about the woeful state of small businesses, another issue he says he will promptly address if elected, by opening a special office to provide incentives and bolster them.
Alvarez takes one of his frequent jabs at underperforming politicians on the topic of social service saturation in the area, saying that “Clearly they’re not doing what they were elected to do. It’s unacceptable that we have more shelters than anywhere else in the city,” though he would push for a program to have cops get the homeless off the streets “to prevent them from dying” in cold weather.