Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eying election, Rangel stresses ties to the Bronx

By Shant Shahrigian
Riverdale Press file photo by Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Congressman Charles Rangel addresses a Business and Innovation Conference at Lehman College in April.

Congressman Charles Rangel is running for reelection to represent the New York State 13th Congressional District.

The area traditionally included Harlem and parts of Upper Manhattan, but since the beginning of this year, Mr. Rangel has also represented Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Park and other parts of the Bronx due to redistricting.

While Mr. Rangel touted his national accomplishments in a Dec. 19 op-ed announcing his candidacy in The New York Daily News, the 22-term congressman discussed his Bronx credentials in a Monday phone interview with The Press.

Mr. Rangel said throughout 2013, he has hosted events in the borough featuring Washington, D.C. officials on topics including Social Security, veterans’ benefits and the Affordable Care Act to give more people health insurance.

The congressman added he has worked with fellow New York Congressmen José Serrano and Eliot Engel along with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on development projects in the Bronx, although he did not give details.

“I couldn’t have wanted a better, warmer reception than what I’ve gotten,” said Mr. Rangel, who continued, “I am excited to see economic progress move quickly to the Bronx, and I will be part of it.”

Mr. Rangel, a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School, also said he will renew his efforts to open a district office in the Bronx.

In January, a spokesperson for the congressman announced plans for such an office. But in April, Mr. Rangel told The Press budget cuts had made that impossible.

“We’re in the process of either talking about sharing space with legislators or having satellite offices,” Mr. Rangel said. “You can bet your life that my presence will be felt in the Bronx.”

The longtime incumbent, who rose to office in the wake of the civil rights movement, could face a tough Democratic primary next year. In 2012, Mr. Rangel narrowly beat state Sen. Adriano Espaillat for the Democratic ticket. Mr. Espaillat garnered more votes than Mr. Rangel in the Bronx part of the district. But Mr. Rangel went on to easily win reelection in the general ballot.

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