Jackson and Espaillat: rivals cross paths on primary day

By Summer Meza

After casting a vote for himself in Washington Heights, State Senate candidate Robert Jackson claimed that he is more “for the people” than his competitor Marisol Alcantara, who has run a campaign on her grassroots background.

“I feel the way I do when I’m finishing a marathon,” said Jackson. “Tired, but excited that I’m so close. My main competition today is apathy from voters.”

Minutes after Jackson left the Fort Washington Collegiate Church polling station, the man who defeated him for the same Senate seat two years ago,  Adriano Espaillat, cast his vote. Espaillat, who is now the Democratic candidate to replace U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, is backing fellow Dominican Alcantara as his successor.

“I am very optimistic,” said Espaillat after casting his vote. “I think we’re gonna come out in big numbers today. God is with us.”

Despite support from the incumbent for Alcantara, there is still a sense that Jackson’s history with the neighborhood could help him.  He served twelve years as a City Council member before resigning because of term limits.

“I’ve seen him around for 20 years, he seems to know the people and the neighborhood,” said Lazaro Rodriguez, a voter and Washington Heights resident. “I’ve never heard anyone talk bad about him. He’s of the people, that’s all I’ve ever heard.”

Robert Jackson gives state Senate another run in District 31

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Robert Jackson is in a four-way race for District 31’s state Senate seat. Credit: Campaign website

By Summer Meza

Former City Council member Robert Jackson is running once again for the District 31 state Senate seat.

Born and raised in Northern Manhattan, Jackson unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Adriano Espaillat in 2014. He turned instead to a campaign for the district leader position, which he has held since 2015.

Jackson, 63, has focused on education throughout his career, serving as a community school board president and the chair of the education committee while on City Council. He also helped form the Uptown Community Democrats, a group that backed him in his run for district leader. He was co-chair for the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus and was the only Muslim City Council member during his term from 2002 to 2013.

After losing a bid for the borough presidency in 2013 and losing to Espaillat in 2014, by a 50.3 percent to 42.7 percent vote, Jackson is relying on the endorsement of the New York State United Teachers for this campaign.

He has also received support from Congressman Charles Rangel, former Mayor David Dinkins, state Senator Bill Perkins and Assemblyman Keith Wright.

He has raised $118,920 as of Sept. 11, according to the state Board of Elections.

Jackson’s opponents on Tuesday are Micah Lasher, Marisol Alcantara and Luis Tejada.

Campaign platform:

  • Fully fund both CUNY and SUNY’s operating budgets with no tuition increase.
  • Allow Election Day voter registration.
  • Expand background checks and close loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, those on the terror watch list and the mentally ill.
  • Stop “out-of-context luxury developments like Sherman Plaza that will cause gentrification and displacement.” The Inwood housing project, which died last month in the City Council, would have changed the zoning to allow developers to build a tall building in exchange for including affordable housing units.