Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez wants to see a healthier and safer Bronx under a Joe Biden presidency. She hopes that the voters of the Bronx will see her as their best option for borough president to help the new President put his new policies into effect.
Fernandez, a Democrat who represents Allerton, Pelham Gardens, and Morris Park in the Bronx’s 80th Assembly district, held a campaign fundraiser via Zoom Wednesday, Nov. 18 to help bolster her candidacy. She used the event to highlight her platform, and the relief she feels after Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
“I’m hoping Biden will be better a friend to New York in getting us the funding that we need,” said Fernandez in a phone interview with The Mott Haven Herald. “The state has been doing what we can, but we really can’t help the situation without additional help from the stimulus package.”
Fernanez is running to replace Ruben Diaz Jr., who announced last year that he will retire from politics entirely once he steps down next year. She will face formidable competition in the 2021 race. So far, Democratic City Council members Rafael Salamanca Jr., Fernando Cabrera and Vanessa Gibson have all announced that they will run, as has a political outsider, Victor Gutierrez. Diaz Jr. has held the office since 2009.
Fernandez says she is confident Biden will tackle the COVID-19 pandemic better than President Donald Trump has.
“It’s very relieving that we actually have someone who has a strategy to get this virus under control,” she said. “We’ve already seen his COVID task force come out, promises to implement a mask mandate and to make sure a vaccine is given out fairly and accessible to all communities.”
In his town hall in October for ABC news, Biden said that although the federal government can’t create a nation-wide mask mandate, he will appeal to governors and mayors to enact mandates at state and local levels.
Meanwhile, Trump has threatened to not deliver vaccines to New York.
Under the new administration, Fernandez said she would like to see more federal money spent on the New York City Housing Authority. In 2020, the federal government contributed $2.2 billion to NYCHA, making up about 57% of its total budget. Trump has proposed major cuts to public housing, but they never passed through Congress.
Area median income (AMI)—the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s formula that helps determine what affordable housing—remains an ongoing point of contention. Right now, incomes for residents from all five New York City boroughs and Westchester County are lumped under the same AMI. That creates issues when prosperous areas are grouped together with low-income areas like Mott Haven and Hunts Point. Fernandez said she would like to see the Bronx be assigned its own AMI separate from the rest of the city and Westchester.
“I hate to say we’re the poorest borough, but it’s true,” she said. “We can’t be considered at the same level as everything else when it’s just not like that.”
Though Biden won the majority of votes in the South Bronx, Trump had a stronger turnout locally than he did in 2016, according to in-person voting data analyzed by the City University of New York’s Center for Urban Research.
“I want to say it’s a little surprising but at the same time, not really,” Fernandez said. “I don’t want to say there’s distrust in government, but I think that’s something he perpetuated and used to his advantage from his first campaign – ‘drain the swamp,’ ‘I’m not a politician.’ I think that sentiment still lingers.”