De La Rosa beats out incumbent for Assembly 72 seat

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Source: New York State Board of Elections. Credit: Sangsuk Sylvia Kang/The North Polls

By Emily Churchill, Danielle Prager, Emily Harris and Allana Haynes

Assembly District 72 was always going to be a tough race, with incumbent Democrat Guillermo Linares facing multiple rivalries from within his own party. But the result was relatively unexpected: political newcomer Carmen De La Rosa won the primary on September 13 with 46.2 percent of the vote.

De La Rosa’s win could be traced, in part, to the support of Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress Adriano Espaillat, who is the presumptive replacement for U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel. Espaillat endorsed both De La Rosa and Senate District 31 primary winner Marisol Alcantara after he called 2016 the “year of the woman.”

Espaillat has been dubbed “the kingmaker” by the New York Times, but perhaps after this election he should instead be called the queenmaker.

De La Rosa, 30, was appointed chief of staff to Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez in 2014 and was elected as a Democratic district leader for the 72nd Assembly District the following year. De La Rosa ran on a platform that focused on women’s rights, neighborhood beautification and educational improvement.

This is a difficult defeat for Linares, who held the seat from 2011 until 2013 and won it back in 2014. In 1992, Linares became the first Dominican to hold public office in New York City when he served on the City Council until 2001. Linares received 32.4 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.

Democrat George Fernandez challenged De La Rosa and Linares. Recently introduced to North Manhattan politics, 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. He ran on his recovery from his troubled past, as well as his activity in local government and support of affordable housing initiatives. He received 8.2 percent of the primary vote.

Some 13.2 percent of the votes were blank, void or write-ins.

De La Rosa and Fernandez could not be reached to comment. Linares and his campaign manager Angel Audifferd declined to comment.

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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.”

Fernandez fights to take over Assembly District 72 seat

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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