Four candidates, four campaigners – as diverse as their neighborhood

By Emily Ulbricht and Bimina Ranjit 

With household incomes ranging from less than 9 thousand dollars to more than 1.3 million a year, Senate District 31 is extremely diverse. The southern section encompasses the Garment District and the Upper West Side, with more than eighty percent white residents; in the north, the populations of Washington Heights and Inwood comprise up to eighty five percent Hispanics.

The four Democrats who are running for District 31 State Senator are just as diverse: three men, one woman. Two Dominicans, one African-American, one white Jew. Two are from Hamilton Heights, one from Washington Heights and one from the Upper West Side.

They are all Democrats but their campaigns diverge in terms of specific issues and policy ideas, giving different reasons to support each.

We travelled through District 31, interviewing campaigners for each of the candidates.

The one thing Marisol Alcantara stands out for is… “I’m a youth advocate, so… youth. She’s investing in young people and ensures they have education and opportunities.”

Eddie Silverio, 47, Director of a Youth Center in Washington Heights, for Marisol Alcantara 

“I am known for my bow ties. But today I’ve chosen a special one, in the colors of Marisol.

“I took the day off to campaign today: Primaries elections are the most important election, that’s where your voice is heard. I vote since I’m 18 years old and will vote for the rest of my life. People fought in the 60’s for our right to vote, and I will never forget that.

I know Marisol for 20 years, since she came to the youth center I work at, to volunteer and we’ve worked on several campaigns. I support her, because she brings fresh ideas. We need someone who is not in the system and I think Marisol will bring the twist and make a difference.”


The one thing Micah Lasher stands out for is… “His energy and his devotion to the neighborhood and the causes that are important to New Yorkers.”

Elizabeth Mann (Micah Lasher’s wife), 41, from Upper West Side, for Micah Lasher

“It’s a family business: His mother, his sister, his brother-in-law, we’re all out here today to support him.”

“I’m here since 9 a.m. I dropped the kids at school and came right onto the street to campaign… It’s important to be out here, talk to voters and show that we all do it work. It’s the right moment for Micah: He worked for former Mayor Bloomberg and Attorney General Schneiderman and brings a lot of experience to support progressive causes. Now is the opportunity for Democrats to obtain a majority in the Senate and Micah wants to make it work. If he goes to Albany, it’ll be a challenge for the family, but we’ll make it work.”



The one thing Robert Jackson stands out for is… “He served as city councilman for three terms. He does community service without expecting publicity. He is humble and sincere and does not work for credit.”

Linda Johns, Washington Heights resident campaigning for Robert Jackson

“I would not vote for Lasher because he is for charter schools and Alcantara would caucus with the republicans, I have been supporting Jackson for all these years and I still do.”

“Jackson initiated the lawsuit again the state for inadequate funding in New York Public school, he walked 150 miles to Albany with group of parents to support the lawsuit, after they won the case and sum of 16 billion dollars.  Unfortunately, due to economic crisis the state took a lot of that money back.

If he is in senate there is higher possibility of restoring the funds back to public school.”




The one thing Luis Tejada stands out for is… “He has the experience of the local and knowledge of politician. He has held jobs like being a taxi driver and building super, and now he is in politics.”

Pio Tejada (Tejada’s brother), campaigning at Inwood for Luis Tejada

“He is my brother and I support him for I know he is a deserving candidate, he founded Mirabel Sisters cultural and community center and I work there with him. “

“For last fifteen years Luis Tejada has been working for the tenants rights in this neighborhood, fighting for the poor people harassed by their landlord. He has lots of insights for he has been physically in the community, I think he should be the guy for the state senate, he knows what he is doing.”


Serrano runs for 7th term in state Senate


Priorities for incumbent José M. Serrano include increasing transparency in the legislative process, securing affordable housing and protecting public health. Credit: New York State Senate

By Emily Ulbricht

Democratic incumbent José M. Serrano, 44, is running for his seventh term as District 29’s state senator.

A son of U.S Congressman José Serrano, also a Democrat from New York, Serrano is a lifelong South Bronx resident. He started his political career soon after graduating from Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in government. Serrano first joined Community Board 4 and then was elected to the City Council in 2001. There, he continued his efforts to strengthen arts and cultures in the city, including the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Three years later, Serrano left City Council to run for Senate. He defeated his predecessor Olga A. Mendez in District 28’s race, which in 2012 was redrawn into the current District 29. Mendez had held the seat for 26 years, but switched to the Republicans shortly before. Serrano, endorsed by the Bronx’ Democratic establishment, promised to join a group of political reformers in the Senate.

Since then, Serrano has represented what he calls one of the most socio-economic and cultural diversified districts, with neighborhoods in the Bronx, East Harlem, Central Park and Upper West Side. He serves as chair of the Senate Democratic Conference.

In November, Serrano faces Republican Jose Colon and Conservative Linda Ortiz. He won 65.5 percent of the vote in the 2004 general election and 83.1 percent in 2014. He has faced no competition in past primaries and he captured more than 90 percent of the vote in other previous general elections.

For his 2016 campaign, he raised $24,000, according to the state Board of Elections.

Serrano lives with his wife and two children.

Campaign Platform

  • Outspoken proponent for arts, libraries and cultural institutions and advocate for art and music in school curriculum.
  • Fights for immigrants’ rights by providing access to higher education. Supports increasing minimum wage and women’s equality by closing the gender gap.
  • Supports increased ethics and transparency within New York State government.
  • Introduced a bill to mandate New York State Health department to conduct a study on the high asthma rates in the Bronx. The bill passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.