Even though no Bronx Republican has won a seat on the New York City Council in two decades, the party’s candidates in the 8th and 17th Council districts are not giving up on tomorrow’s general election without a fight.
In the 2013 Council election, the districts’ Republican candidates received just 4.4 per cent of the total votes cast.
Daby Carreras, 37, a financial advisor who lives in East Harlem, is running against Democrat Diana Ayala in the 8th Council district, which includes Mott Haven, Port Morris and East Harlem. Although the self-dubbed “Wall Street politician” strongly opposes city Democrats’ ambitious rezoning plans for the South Bronx, he doesn’t want to be associated with the national Republican Party either.
“Having that Republican name there is so difficult. They think I’m Donald Trump,” said Carreras, stressing that he identifies with the core Republican call for limited government.
Patrick Delices, 46, an educator who lives in Mott Haven, faces similarly long odds as he challenges the Democratic incumbent, Rafael Salamanca, in the 17th Council district, which includes Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose. The Columbia and NYU alumnus says that improving South Bronx schools is one of his key concerns. Delices is confident that his experience conducting research internationally has prepared him to represent the culturally diverse neighborhoods, while allowing him to see the ways other nations run their cities.
Delices urges voters to evaluate the candidates based on their qualifications, not on party affiliation.
“Look at people in terms of their experience and in terms of what’s in their minds and hearts, who has a vision to transform and reshape the South Bronx to the glory it could be,” said Delices.
Carreras says that, if elected, his main focus would be on the need for affordable housing. The city’s $3.5 billion budget for land use in the 8th Council district is more than enough for the 7,000 affordable housing units he says must be built.
Above all, elected officials who serve the district must help prevent residents from losing their homes, while also taking measures to save public housing, he said. In order to ensure that the necessary affordable housing is built, he added, the city should encourage competition in the bidding process to reduce the price of construction. He provided the example of a Texas-based construction company that uses shipping containers to build affordable housing units at roughly 13-14 percent less than what the city currently pays.
Delices, who has worked as a career advisor for college students, wants to empower South Bronx students to compete in the global job market. If elected, he says he would secure funding for programs that allow students to study abroad, as well as engaging local schools to ensure they offer more classes in world history and cultures.
Delices sees public security as another pressing issue. He said he would install security cameras and increase police patrols on street corners with high crime rates. More importantly he wants to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement agencies. He would initiate programs to familiarize students with police officers and even help prepare interested students to take police and fire officer exams.
To boost Delices’ chances at pulling an upset, one of his supporters says that the campaign is trying to mobilize more potential Republican voters who are resigned to yet another resounding defeat at the hands of the Democrats.
“There are people who Patrick talks to all the time. They are supporters but they are silent supporters,” said Reggie Mabry, 52, a friend of the candidate’s since college. “There is always the possibility of a surprise election.”