City Council District 15 - Democratic Primary

         
 
          
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Preferred Candidate - Albert Alvarez - Dem
Age: 45 Occupation: Chief of Staff, Councilmember Joel Rivera’s Office
Education: St. John’s University (BS), Syracuse College of Law (JD)

 

Albert Alvarez has extensive experience in both the non-profit and governmental sectors of his community. He has worked with the Citizen’s Committee for New York and established several tenant associations in the district. For the past 12 years he has worked for Councilmember Joel Rivera, most recently serving as his chief of staff. With his experience in tenants’ rights, Alvarez will make his first priority housing reform. If elected, he will also push for more green space and better park maintenance in the Bronx. On good governance issues, Alvarez pledges to increase community engagement in District 15 by increasing voter registration and holding more community meetings. He also supports eliminating lulus all together and reforming member item distribution. Citizens Union believes that Alvarez has genuine intentions for his district, and the City Council experience to follow through on his promises, which is why Citizens Union prefers Alvarez.


 

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 Raquel Batista - Dem

Age: 38 Occupation: N/A
Education: CUNY Law School (JD)

Raquel Batista, who formerly worked with the Legal Defense Fund, says that her background in managing large organizations will make her a successful Councilmember. On top of her normal legislative workload at the Legal Defense Fund, Batista marshaled resources to provide immigrants of Northern Manhattan access to legal documents in their native languages. As a daughter of immigrant parents, Batista is devoted to the minorities in her district that she believes do not have equal access to New York City politics. Therefore, Batista will work to ensure voting rights and voter access for immigrants as well as civic engagement in communities of color, especially where the infrastructure for strong minority influence already exists. Other issues that Batista is passionate about include social justice, equality and increased transparency in government. On Citizens Union’s issues, she believes in eliminating the stop, question and frisk policy. Batista believes that the Council framework needs to be reworked to include more transparency in the committee process. While she did not take a definitive position on eliminating lulus she stated that she would support changing the overall framework for lulus. Citizens Union believes that Batista is a breath of fresh air but lacks needed experience to serve effectively in the City Council.




 
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Joel R. Rivera - Dem, WFP
Age: 35 Occupation: Bronx Liaison, NYC Comptroller 
Education: George Washington University (BA)

Joel R. Rivera, the liaison in the Bronx for the city comptroller, was born and raised in the borough. Previously, he ran for the NYS Assembly in the special election of 2009. Rivera has helped advocate for change in his community by fighting for minimum wage increases and paid sick leave. He has also founded Servicing Our Youth, a program that provides civic education and promotes community activism. Some of Rivera’s priorities include implementing a living wage, focusing more resources on the community, and ensuring equality. On reform issues, Rivera’s main focus is on reforming the Board of Elections, as he has personal experience with the pitfalls of the system. He would also like poll workers to be better separated from candidates in order to make the overall system fairer for candidates. On discretionary funding, Rivera is in favor of creating a community panel to distribute the funds more equally and provide increased oversight. Rivera emphasizes that he is a community-oriented candidate with the ability and ambition to improve the status quo in the Bronx.




 
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Cynthia Thompkins - Dem
Age: 56 Occupation: Attorney at The Legal Aid Society
Education: JD (name of degree-granting institution not provided)

Cynthia Thompkins is running for office because she continues to have concerns about the condition of her neighborhood. Originally when elected officials were unresponsive to her concerns, Thompkins used her neighborhood ties to take action against violence in Fordham Heights. As an attorney, former president of the 46th Precinct Community Council and the Marion Ave. Neighborhood Association, Thompkins has experience in both legislation and law enforcement. Thompkins’ priorities include youth empowerment, bridging the gap between community members and the NYPD, and providing increased access to adequate housing. On reform issues, she is passionate about eliminating party primaries and stated that this is one of the keys to reaching the people of the community. She is also a strong advocate for better oversight of discretionary funding to ensure that organizations are actually providing the services they claim to provide within each district. Thompkins has extensive experience within her community and has worked hard to improve conditions but Citizens Union is concerned about her lack of vision for her role as a potential Councilmember.




 
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Ritchie J. Torres - Dem, WFP
Age: 25 Occupation: City Council Aide, Councilmember Vacca
Education: N/A

Ritchie Torres, a longtime staffer for Councilmember James Vacca, states that he wants to be “the change” in City Council. Torres believes that his experience in the City Council along with his record of effective advocacy will make him a successful Councilmember. Torres’ main policy priorities focus on housing, following up on his work with Councilmember Vacca. As Housing Director in District 15, Torres fought landlords and NYCHA to ensure tenant safety and security. Torres also advocated for greater decentralization of City government and re-engagement with the constituents. If elected, he pledges to fight for housing code enforcement and implement participatory budgeting. Concerning reform issues, Torres highlighted procedural reform in the City Council as a priority, but did not specify the steps he would take to implement these reforms. Overall he believes that the district is in need of new leadership and greater transparency but is not specific on how to achieve those goals.