Carmen De La Rosa hopes to inspire next generation in community

By Allana Haynes

Two Dominican women from Manhattan are trying to break into the male-dominated New York State legislature this year — one in the Senate and one in the Assembly.

Marisol Alcantara is one of four candidates, and the only woman, vying to replace Adriano Espaillat in Senate District 31.  Carmen De La Rosa is challenging incumbent Guillermo Linares for Assembly District 72.

Espaillat is endorsing them both, calling it the “year of the woman.”  Espaillat is the Democratic congressional nominee and presumptive replacement for former U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel.

Support from Espaillat lends a competitive edge to these women. Like him, De La Rosa and Alcantara are Dominican, an advantage in northern Manhattan where more than 66 percent of foreign born citizens are Dominican, the largest immigrant group in the city.

“Espaillat’s support means the world to me,” said De La Rosa. “He is a fighter for the things that matter most, and I look up to the work that he has done.”

De La Rosa is an advocate for protecting women’s rights, improving education and environmental protection. She has a two-year-old daughter named Mia. If elected she would be the only Dominican woman in the State Assembly.

“I believe that I am setting an example for my daughter and her peers that a new generation of leadership is flourishing in our community and that (women) have a place at the table,” said De La Rosa.

Alcantara, like De La Rosa, hopes to provide affordable housing, supports funding of local public schools and wants to inspire and support more Latinos and women in public office.

Less than one third of the 150 members in the New York State Assembly are women. Of the 63 State Senators, only 12 are women, which is less than twenty percent.

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First stop for this disenfranchised voter: The polls.

By Danielle Prager

Da’Ud Nashid, 50, a convicted felon who spent 28 years in a New York State prison, was one of the first to arrive at Washington Heights Academy, the polling center for the 72nd District’s State Assembly primary. He came, despite the fact that he can’t vote.

“I’m here to learn about the process,” said Nashid.

New York State law prevents individuals with a felony conviction from voting while incarcerated or on parole. Following the completion of his or her sentence and parole, the individual is required to re-register with their county’s Board of Elections.

Nashid, who did not want his picture taken, is part of the estimated 122,000 convicted felons who are disenfranchised in New York State.

“It’s part of our civic duty to vote. Not only in national elections, but in small elections like this,” said Nashid, who says he’s planning to vote as soon as he’s eligible.

As a felon he couldn’t vote. Today George Fernandez votes for himself.

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Fernandez votes for the first time in six years, for himself. Credit: Danielle Prager/The North Polls

By Danielle Prager

For six years, while he was serving time in various New York State prisons, George Fernandez could not vote. Today he voted in the Democratic race for the 72nd District’s State Assembly primary. For himself.

Fernandez was released from his second prison term in 2002: a five-year stint at Sing Sing Correctional Facility on charges of robbery. Five years earlier, he was arrested for holding up a grocery store at gunpoint.

“Today, aside from the births of my children, is the most important day of my life,” said Fernandez. “I’ve reached the ultimate goal, casting my vote.”

New York State law prohibits convicted felons from voting while incarcerated or on parole. In order to regain voting rights, convicted felons must re-register with the state. Fernandez, who served three terms as chair of Community Board 12,  cast his vote at Washington Heights Academy in Inwood.

“Everyone has their bottom, I hit mine and it’s what led me to the decision that I need to live life better: For God, for myself, for my family and for my community,” Fernandez said. “For my life story, I’ve won already because I took it all the way to the finish line. I’m here to the end and that speaks volumes.”

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

Dickens runs to represent Harlem

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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

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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

Rodriguez runs for third term

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Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez is running for a third term. Credit: Campaign website

By Louis Baudoin-Laarman

Robert Jay Rodriguez, 40, has no Democratic challengers for his District 68 Assembly seat.

So the two-term assemblyman will face Republican candidate Daby Carreras in November.

A native of East Harlem, Rodriguez was immersed in city politics before he even started his political career, as he is the son of former New York Councilman Robert Rodriguez.

Since winning the District 68 seat, Rodriguez has often worked with State Senator José M. Serrano, who also represents East Harlem. Together, the two representatives frequently visit public facilities in their neighborhood to meet their constituents. 

This year, Rodriguez is also running on the Women’s Equality Party ticket.

Rodriguez received $268,616 in contributions for 2015 and 2016, according to the state Board of Elections.

Campaign platform

  • Creating the New York State Senior Center Council. The council is a legislative body that will discuss challenges facing senior centers across the state. The bill has been approved by the Assembly but still needs to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Advocating for the Move New York Fair Plan, which aims to reform New York’s saturated transportation network through the establishment of tolls on seven of the city’s bridges on the East River and the extension of the public transportation network.

“For far too long there are communities in New York City that are cut off from mass transit,” said Rodriguez at a press conference.

  • Changing the current approach to arrests for marijuana possession. Rodriguez co-sponsored a bill to seal certain convictions for possession, which result in “closing doors … educational and work opportunities for tens of thousands of disproportionately affected black and brown people in low-income communities, who are suffering for an over policing in our communities,” he said on the Assembly floor in June.