On Nov. 3rd Bronx Assembly District 79, Mott Haven, Concourse, High Bridge, and Melrose, will be voting for a new Assembly member to take over Assemblyman Michael Blake’s seat. The Democratic candidate for this seat, Chantel Jackson, will likely be his successor. Republican candidate Donald Skinner, and Independent candidate Dion Powell will also be on the ballot.
Jackson, 37, grew up in Harlem and moved to the South Bronx 13 years ago with her daughter Skye, 18. Jackson is up by 4:30 a.m. every morning and enjoys the stillness as she focuses on her tasks for that day.
“The world is sleeping around you, and you can get really connected spiritually,” she said.
“She never aspired to be a politician, she’s just being [led to] that as a path to help the people in her community,” said Stephen Jackson, Chantel’s father and Chief Executive Officer of Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO).
While Jackson was completing her degree in Social Work at Adelphi University she realized that there aren’t a lot of social workers in legislation even though they administer it.
“It’s important for someone who has an idea of what it’s like to deal with direct service to be part of the legislation conversation,” said Jackson.
Jackson’s former boss, Assemblyman Michael Blake endorsed her, saying, “Chantel is a mom, an educator, a mental health professional, a community leader and demonstrates that you can and are ready to lead as an elected official on day one.”
W.H.E.N. (Wellness, Housing, Education, Now!) is Jackson’s mission.
The South Bronx is labeled as the unhealthiest county of the 62 in NY State. Jackson’s goal is to ensure streets are safer, the air is cleaner, and children have better education and homes.
Jackson has organized multiple community events to engage voters through voter registration drives, helping people complete absentee ballot applications and the census. In September she cycled with community members from the Bronx to Harlem for voter registration .
“I actually registered one of my former students, which is nice,” Jackson said.
When asked about her stance on vaccines Jackson clarifies that, contrary to being labeled as an anti-vaxxer, she did vaccinate her daughter. However, she does stand by parents deciding what goes into their child’s body until they are old enough.
“No one should be mandating that without informing a parent of what their options are [and] what the risks are,” said Jackson, who says she tries to approach life in a holistic manner.
“I get my healing from food, because that’s what it’s designed to do,” said Jackson.
Latanya DeVaughn, 40, founder of Bronx Bound Books, a bookstore on wheels, met Jackson at a community event.
“Speaking to her, was like speaking to someone else from the community that cared about the community as much as I did,” said DeVaughn.
Jackson is excited to make politics accessible to her community.
“I’m looking forward to my students, and people from our community coming to visit me in Albany and watching the process,” she said.