In Marble Hill, Linares battles for Dominican vote

By Emily Harris

One of New York City’s most prominent Latino politicians, Guillermo Linares, is facing a political battle to retain his seat in the state legislature.  

“No one has served as long as I have in the Northattan community, considered the heart and soul of Dominican diaspora,” Linares said. He is the first Dominican ever to serve on city council, marked by his election in 1991, and has been in New York City politics for 25 years.

Linares spoke at the John F Kennedy High School polling station in Marble Hill, where he came to vote early this morning. While usually the incumbent goes uncontested, Linares is up against candidates George Ferndandez and Carmen De La Rosa in a fight for his current seat.

This comes after Linares lost to Adriano Espaillat in the Democratic congressional primary to replace Charles Rangel earlier this year.  Espaillat has endorsed contender De La Rosa, who is also Dominican, to take his place, setting up the head-to-head vote that will test loyalties of local Latino voters. 

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Incumbent Guillermo Linares speaks to the Spanish-speaking television station Telemundo’s camera crew after casting his vote at the polling station in Marble Hill. Credit: Emily Harris/The North Polls

“No one has been more of a champion of promoting young women exercising leadership in the public and private sector than me,” Linares said of his competition with De La Rosa, a longtime advocate for women’s rights. Linares cited the increase of women in leadership roles in education since he was first elected to the 72nd District Assembly in 2010.

De La Rosa also has the support of NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. “She’s the one who will bring a strong, progressive voice… she will continue building a bridge that will connect people from all backgrounds,” Rodriguez said, claiming she will bring a fresh perspective to the role. 

Linares, meanwhile, has experience. He championed a language policy that requires public services to provide translations during his time as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. As NYS District 72 Assemblyman, he developed the Dream Act, a program to help undocumented teenagers get into college, and was later elected to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

“It takes experience, which I bring, but also political capital. When they see you, they know you command, a level of respect as a public servant. You can’t get that overnight,” Linares stated.

Never before has Linares’ position been so jeopardized as it is now, with the Latino vote split between him and  De La Rosa. It is up to the voters today whether experience or a new set of eyes is what the NYS Assembly needs most.

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Incumbent Assemblyman Linares battles for reelection for District 72

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Incumbent Democrat Guillermo Linares seek reelection for State Assembly. Credit: Campaign Website

By Emily Harris

Democrat Guillermo Linares is running for reelection in Assembly District 72, after an unsuccessful bid to take retiring Congressman Charlie Rangel’s seat in June.

He faces Carmen De La Rosa and George Fernandez in Tuesday’s primary.

Linares, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic in 1966, obtained his Ph.D. in education from Columbia University Teachers College and became a school teacher in Washington Heights.

After leaving education to pursue a career in politics, Linares became the first Dominican to hold a position in public office in New York City when he served in the New York City Council from 1992 to 2001. He later served as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in 2011-2012.

Linares was originally elected to Assembly in 2010, serving a single two-year term. He was elected again for the post in 2014.

Linares, 65, has a track record of supporting public schools and pushing for education reform District 72. Linares is specifically campaigning to increase the graduation rate.

He has raised $21,939 as of September, according to the state Board of Elections campaign finance unit.

Linares currently lives with his wife, Evelyn, in Marble Hill.

Campaign Platform

–Supports public schools

–Fights for immigrant rights

–Advocates for affordable housing initiatives

–Protects rights of and pushes for healthcare reform for the elderly