Political Arena

Candidates vie to succeed Espaillat, Rosa

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Jackson jumps in

Following his unsuccessful effort to take Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat in Congress, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat is facing a challenger of his own to represent the 31st state senate district.

Former Councilman Robert Jackson plans to make Mr. Espaillat’s twice-failed attempt to join Congress a central part of his campaign. Mr. Espaillat announced he would seek to keep his senate seat in the same statement in which he conceded the tough congressional primary to Mr. Rangel, on June 26.

“I’m not going to be running for Congress in two years or any time,” Mr. Jackson said in a phone interview. “I am fully dedicated to representing all the people in Marble Hill and all the way down to 26th Street.”

It won’t be an easy fight. In his congressional primary against Mr. Rangel, Mr. Espaillat won most of the neighborhoods in his senate district. But Mr. Jackson is hardly a stranger there, having represented a swath of Upper Manhattan on the city council before being term-limited out of office at the end of 2012.

He listed his main issues as job creation, education, safety, affordable housing and immigration reform. Mr. Jackson also said he will prioritize constituent work, saying his staff can currently provide free notary services and that they would continue to do so if he wins.

Mr. Espaillat has mostly been out of the news since conceding to Mr. Rangel. But a spokesman said the senator has a far more progressive record than Mr. Jackson.

“On affordable housing, the environment and other critical issues to voters in this district, the senator’s record far outshines his opponent’s,” Jonathan Davis said in an e-mail.

New contender

Blogs and daily papers have speculated for weeks on who will vie for Mr. Espaillat’s seat. One candidate has confirmed he dropped out of that race to run for former Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa’s seat after Mr. Espaillat lost to Mr. Rangel and Ms. Rosa resigned from office amid charges for a previous fake marriage. She pleaded guilty to the charges at the end of last month.

Manny De Los Santos, the district leader for the area Ms. Rosa represented, said her situation shows problems with the immigration infrastructure.

“All I can say is it’s very unfortunate because she did great in Albany as a legislator,” Mr. De Los Santos said of Ms. Rosa. “She’s a great person. It just gives us more reason why we need immigration reform.”

Ms. Rosa said she paid a man $8,000 to marry her so she could get U.S. citizenship years ago.

Mr. De Los Santos, a social worker, said his campaign would focus on young people.

“Young people have been neglected in this district,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We have to keep in mind that not every adult is college bound. We have to bring them into the process and teach them the way.”

Discussing public housing, he said residents of sites like the Marble Hill Houses, at the tip of the 72nd assembly district, often lack clarity on where to turn for help.

“That’s just one part of the district that we cannot afford to neglect,” said Mr. De Los Santos, the only known candidate in the race. 

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