Dickens runs to represent Harlem

Inez Dickens,  a lifelong Harlem resident, is running for Keith Wright’s state Senate seat. Credit: New York City Council

By Alaina Raftis

City Councilwoman Inez Dickens is a lifelong New Yorker and multi-millionaire. She’s running for the Senate District 70 seat of Keith Wright, who is stepping down after 23 years following an unsuccessful bid to succeed Charlie Rangel in Congress.

Dickens, married with no children, is one of New York’s wealthiest elected public officials, according to the Observer. Her current base salary at the City Council, where she’s served since 2005, is $112,500. But she is worth over $2.1 million dollars due to her family’s involvement in real estate development.

Earlier this year, she and other City Council members requested and received a $36,000 pay raise. She told the commission she didn’t deserve to be “‘penalized’ for becoming a ‘public servant’,” according to DNAinfo.com.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in land economics from New York University.

Earlier this year, Dickens, 67, was fined $3,500 for violating of election fundraising rules, according to DNAinfo. The Dickens Committee also violated fundraising laws in 2009 and was fined $1,452, according to city Campaign Finance Board records.

She will face Republican Heather Tarrant in November’s general election.

Dickens received $298,822 in contributions for 2015 and 2016, according to the state Board of Elections.

Campaign platform

  • Favors childcare tax credit and charter schools, such as the Harlem Children Zone charter school at St. Nicholas housing development
  • Supports the needs of women and children
  • Established the “Healthy Feet for Healthy Living” project, which provides children in New York City public schools with public health, outreach and screenings to address ill foot health. Foot problems can lead to mobility issues and obesity
  • Supports Project Greenhope, which provides women leaving prison temporary housing
  • Worked with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to secure a rent free place for anti-violence group, Harlem Mother’s S.A.V.E.
  • Supported the development of 10 community gardens in vacant urban spaces, instead of turning them into a housing development
  • Opposed the rezoning plan along 125th Street in Harlem because of her concerns of gentrification, overdevelopment and displacement

Micah Lasher – the outsider with insider connections

Lasher hands out leaflets outside of a Morningside Heights supermarket. Credit: Elizabeth Haq/The North Polls

By Elizabeth Haq

Touting his experience and lofty connections, Micah Lasher is running for State Senate in a four-way race for Manhattan’s District 31

The 34-year-old was most recently chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He has criticized opponent Marisol Alcantara for her alliance with the Senate Independent Democratic Conference, a five-member coalition of independent Democrats and Republicans.

His other challengers are Robert Jackson and Luis Tejada.

Lasher, who served as director of state legislative affairs under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, lives in the Upper West Side with his wife and three young children. He seeks to represent an sprawling district that spans Chelsea, Clinton, the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Hudson Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.

The political insider considers “reform revolution” a top priority, according to his website. He seeks to reduce campaign contribution limits and ban outside income for legislators. 

“Things are deeply broken in Albany,” Lasher said, when asked how the upcoming presidential election would affect New York State Senate. “In this election year…there’s an opportunity for a Democratic Senate and a shaking up of the power structure.” 

Lasher received $453,467 in contributions in 2016, according to the state Board of Elections. Donors include actor Aziz Ansari, high-profile lawyer David Boies, Two Trees Management Company, a real estate development firm, and Bloomberg-era colleagues Bradley Tusk, Michael Cardozo and Stuart Loeser, who collectively gave almost $20,000 this past summer.

Campaign Platform

  • Protect and expand affordable housing
  • Support and increase funding for public education at every level
  • Reform New York State Senate
  • Invest in sustainable energy
  • Support LGBT communities and abortion rights

De La Rosa fights to unseat incumbent Linares

Carmen De La Rosa commemorates the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Good Shepherd RC Church in Inwood  on Saturday. Credit: Allana Haynes/The North Polls

By Allana Haynes

Carmen N. De La Rosa, 30, is running for the District 72 Assembly seat against George Fernandez and incumbent Guillermo Linares in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

She was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to Inwood as a child. She was first person in her family to attend college, graduating from Fordham University with a degree in political science and a certification in peace and justice studies.

She was appointed chief of staff to Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez in 2014, representing Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, and was elected as a Democratic district leader for the 72nd Assembly District in 2015.

She completed the Coro Leadership Institute, a civic leadership training program, in May and currently serves as a Democratic district leader of the 72nd Assembly District.

She currently resides on the same street she was raised with her fiancé, Jose and daughter, Mia, 2.

De La Rosa received $36,409 in contributions in 2016, according to the state Board of Elections.

“I can be that leader that will unify our community, that will stand up to the challenges at hand and take into consideration our community when making decisions,” said De La Rosa in an interview.

Her Campaign Platform:

  • Protect and enhance women’s rights
  • Ensure safe, beautiful streets and parks uptown
  • Protect the environment
  • Improve education

Perkins, a lifelong activist, runs for another state Senate term

Democratic State Senator Bill Perkins in his Harlem office . Credit: Bimina Ranjit/The North Polls

By Bimina Ranjit

Politics infected Bill Perkins at an early age.

Growing up during the era of civil rights movements, he has served as a community activist and politician all his life. Perkins, 66, a Democrat, represents District 30 in the New York State Senate. He has held the seat for the past decade. He also serves as deputy minority whip. The 30th Senate District incorporates Harlem, majority of East Harlem, the Upper West Side and Washington Heights.

Perkins has been a Harlem resident all his life. He lives with his wife, Pamela, and four children in Central Harlem. Perkins has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University. His professional experience includes being the deputy majority leader for the New York City Council from 1998 to 2006.

He has raised $33,817 as of September 11, according to the state Board of Elections.

While he has no Democratic challengers, Perkins faces Republican Jon Girodes in November’s general election.

Listen to Perkins speak about his start in politics, the pressing issues in his district and the Presidential candidate Donald Trump, “He took his hood off.”

Campaign platform:

  • Supports public health
  • Supports equal educational opportunity for all
  • Advocates against wrongful imprisonment
  • Advocates against solitary confinement in prisons
  • Opposes racial, ethnic and religious profiling

Robert Jackson gives state Senate another run in District 31

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.

Fernandez fights to take over Assembly District 72 seat

Fernandez with his two youngest sons. Credit: Campaign Website

By Danielle Prager

George Fernandez, 43, is challenging incumbent Democrat Guillermo Linares for his Assembly District 72’s seat in Washington Heights and Inwood.

Fernandez said he had a tough upbringing, which led to his serving two, six-year prison sentences for armed robbery and driving on a suspended licence.

Crediting his tumultuous early years to a “very poor, dysfunctional home,” Fernandez has since dedicated his life to helping those with similar backgrounds. He has worked as a social worker and has placed a strong priority on reorganizing homes in hopes of creating a safer, more productive environment for his community.

“I’m not playing catch up with the streets, I’m playing catch up with my life,” he said.

Fernandez served as chairman of Community Board 12 from 2013 to 2015 and is currently the council leader of Division 376 for the Public Employees Federation.

Fernandez is Puerto Rican, setting him apart from a large portion of the Dominican community he hopes to represent, as well as from his two opposing candidates, Carmen De La Rosa and Linares.

He has raised $12,000 through Aug. 5, according to the state Board of Elections.

Campaign Platform

  • Values job creation
  • Protects small business
  • Prioritizes affordable housing
  • Against rezoning Inwood properties
  • Supports public school education with smaller classrooms

Marisol Alcantara stands to make history

Alcantara meets with residents and distributes pamphlets outside a subway station at 145th Street and Broadway. Credit: Nafisa Masud/The North Polls

By Nafisa Masud

Marisol Alcantara, if elected, will become the first female Dominican senator in New York history. Alcantara was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the U.S. at a young age. Her traditional upbringing has guided her interests in worker’s rights, immigrant resources and female empowerment.

The Democratic hopeful is running in a four-way race to represent District 31, which covers the broad expanse of west Manhattan, beginning in Midtown and stretching all the way up to Marble Hill.

A former Democratic district leader in West Harlem, Alcantara is no stranger to politics. But it’s her community experience and activist efforts that’s earned her the backing of labor unions across Manhattan. She organized the 37,000-member labor union for the New York State Nurses Association, co-directed the Caribbean Power in Vote efforts in Florida and guided the victories of janitors and service workers to unionize in Delaware and with Service Works United, respectively.

Alcantara worked for the Community Board in her long-time home of Hamilton Heights, acted as a union delegate for local immigrant worker organizations and has participated in numerous programs supporting women and people of color.

Her campaign has raised $57,140 as of August 29, the most noted contributions from New York Senators David Carlucci, Jeffrey Klein and the New York State Nurses Association, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

On Tuesday, Alcantara will face Robert Jackson, Micah Lasher and Luis Tejada.

She lives in Hamilton Heights with her family and hopes to fight for these issues regardless of the primary results.

Campaign Platform

  • Promotes safeguarding workers’ rights within large corporations and businesses
  • Hopes to provide more affordable housing in upper Manhattan
  • Supports greater funding of local public schools
  • Wants to inspire and support more Latinos and women in public office
  • Plans to help push for the Dream Act, which gives young immigrants greater educational opportunities