Young Latinos Set Sights on City Council

This year’s municipal elections are full of diversity, from the race for mayor to the race for City Council. One of the most striking aspects about the Democratic Latino candidates is that some of them aren’t even 30.

Ritchie Torres, at only 24 years of age, is looking to become councilman for District 15 in the Bronx. (Photo via El Diario-La Prensa)

The youngest out of all of them is Ritchie Torres, who is Puerto Rican. Just 24 years old, Torres is running for the City Council to represent District 15 in the Bronx.

“I have a message and a history that resonates with the community,” said Torres.

The young candidate worked with Councilman James Vacca, his protégé in the borough, and has served as a tenant organizer for six years.

“I’m not just part of tenants’ associations, I create them,” he added in a firm and confident voice.

Torres is looking to fill the seat left empty by Joel Rivera, who in 2001 became the youngest member in the history of the City Council at age 22.

Rivera can’t seek re-election because the laws on term limits don’t allow it.

According to experts, scandals and the departure of many City Council members due to term limits provides young candidates such as Torres with a great opportunity.

“We have 33 Latino elected officials and the general feeling is that they aren’t doing the job they’re supposed to be doing for the community,” said political analyst Angelo Falcón.

Ariel Guerrero is running in a crowded field against incumbent Melissa Mark-Viverito in District 8. (Photo via El Diario-La Prensa)

Ariel Guerrero, 28, agrees with Falcón. “The community is somewhat dissatisfied with their local elected officials,” he emphasized.

That is why Guerrero is making headway in Manhattan politics. He is one of six candidates running against Melissa Mark-Viverito to represent District 8, which after redistricting covers East Harlem in Manhattan and the South Bronx. He most recently worked with the Department of Education and was the operations director of the East Harlem Tutorial Program.

Antonio Reynoso will face some major competition for the City Council seat in Brooklyn but he hopes, being a lifelong local of the district, will garner him the support he needs. (Photo via El Diario-La Prensa)

Antonio Reynoso, who is of Dominican descent and just turned 30 at the beginning of the month, is running for City Council in Brooklyn. He is hoping to fill the seat left vacant by his former boss and colleague, Councilwoman Diana Reyna.

Reynoso has the daunting task of running against two candidates. One of them is Assemblyman Vito López, an influential veteran politician, who officially resigned from his position on May 18. While Reynoso realizes that the scandals of sexual abuse and corruption that have stained López’s career will give him a boost, he said he also has a strong base of support.

“I was born in this neighborhood and grew up here,” he explained. “It’s not just the unions that have endorsed me; the community has come out to support me.”

From Falcón’s perspective, the fact that such young candidates are emerging could strengthen the “weak” Latino political structure in the city.

“Despite all the corruption and cynicism of the political process, it’s encouraging to see the youth running anyway,” said Falcón, director of the National Institute for Latino Policy.

However, Falcón said the possibility of new candidates winning has historically been low.

“When people run for the first time, they almost never win. But the younger they start, the better,” he explained.

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  1. Pingback: Scandals, Upsets and ‘Firsts’ in Council Races | Voices of NY

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