Primary '14

Espaillat, Walrond see eye to eye on Bronx


When it comes to issues unique to the Bronx, there is little disagreement between state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Rev. Michael Walrond.

During a debate dedicated to the Bronx part of the 13th congressional district, where Mr. Espaillat and Rev. Walrond are vying to replace Rep. Charles Rangel, the two challengers spent more time criticizing Mr. Rangel for missing the session than arguing about projects and policy in this borough.

“There are a lot of different concerns in these neighborhoods that must be addressed, so I am very deeply disappointed that Congressman Rangel is not here,” Mr. Espaillat said at the start of the debate, which aired on Bronxnet on Monday night.

“The congressman’s inability to show up for this important discussion validates many of the concerns that residents of the Bronx already have,” Rev. Walrond said.

Mr. Rangel later said he had wanted to show up, but missed the debate due to an apparent miscommunication between his office and Bronxnet (see this week's Political Arena). After his challengers — and moderator Gary Axelbank — got in their jabs for his absence, the host quizzed Mr. Espaillat and Rev. Walrond about a range of local issues.

They both said they would help repeat the kind of process that has seen more than $120 million in city and state subsidies go to FreshDirect’s controversial forthcoming headquarters in the tip of the south Bronx.

“I support Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and his initiative to bring FreshDirect to the Bronx,” Mr. Espaillat said. “I think he’s doing an excellent job at trying to bring jobs to the Bronx.”

The senator went on to say he supports the planned Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point and a massive new ice arena at the Kingsbridge Armory, albeit recent lawsuits over profits are stalling the latter venture.

“I think the Bronx is on its way back,” Mr. Espaillat concluded. “And I think Ruben Diaz Jr. is doing a fantastic job. I’m fully supportive of FreshDirect being established here.”

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