After several weeks of discussions with “BronxTalk” host Gary Axelbank, Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat have agreed to join Rev. Michael Walrond in a Bronx-themed debate to air on BronxNet on Monday, June 16 at 9 p.m.
According to the host, while Rev. Walrond’s campaign quickly agreed to the session, it took some cajoling before Mr. Espaillat and Mr. Rangel consented to a debate ahead of the Tuesday, June 24 primary. Mr. Rangel is fighting for a 23rd consecutive term in the face of challenges from Mr. Espaillat and Rev. Walrond to represent the 13th congressional district, which has included Marble Hill and parts of the northwest Bronx since 2012.
“I think once it was made clear that this is 20 percent of the district and there are potential voters out there, I think it became very obvious this is important to participate in,” Mr. Axelbank said in a phone interview Monday.
Mr. Axelbank said the debate will take on the Bronx angle on a range of issues, including health care access, affordable housing, education and government funding for development projects.
“What’s really important to me is this establishes Bronx voters as important,” Mr. Axelbank said.
After the candidates and Mr. Axelbank penned in a Friday, June 13 taping session for the debate, campaigns signaled their enthusiasm for the upcoming episode of “BronxTalk.” It will be their fourth debate in the heated primary race this year.
“The Bronx is a critical part of this district, which is why we did not hesitate to accept the invitation from BronxNet,” said Rev. Walrond’s campaign manager Linara Davidson. “We are eager to share our vision of the district with Bronx voters and demonstrate Walrond’s substantive grasp of policies.”
“Adriano Espaillat firmly believes voters in the Bronx need to hear from their candidates for Congress,” a spokeswoman for his campaign said in an e-mail. “He is committed to participating in this debate so that he can share his vision for bringing change and opportunity for all to the 13th district.”