Numbers, Clout Stay the Same for Latino Pols

Like other Latinos in the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem held on to her seat, although her support was impacted by redistricting which expanded her turf to the South Bronx. (Photo by Barry XXX)

Like other Latinos in the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem held on to her seat, although her support was impacted by redistricting which expanded her turf to the South Bronx. (Photo by Brianne Barry/Voices of NY)

Although the municipal primary elections brought significant changes for some Latino candidates, the Latino influence in the City Council and State Assembly will remain more or less the same.

According to Tuesday’s results, Latino newcomers will replace all the Hispanic Democratic candidates who were term-limited or were defeated at the polls.

“Latinos’ institutional power in the city will remain stable, which isn’t good news because their legislative influence will continue to be small,” said Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a research associate at the Hunter College Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

“Latinos haven’t taken the lead in the City Council, and furthermore, now there’s a new group of Latino candidates who have to gain experience,” he added.

The number of Latinos in the City Council will continue to be 11; the only difference is that now there will be more men (6) than women (5). This fact is independent of whatever happens in the November 5 general elections, since in the few races where a Democratic Latino candidate has opposition, the challenger is also Hispanic.

The big Hispanic loser in the primaries was incumbent Councilwoman Sara González (District 38, which comprises Sunset Park and Red Hook in Brooklyn), who will be replaced by Carlos Menchaca, the first Mexican councilman in the history of New York.

“Usually, for an incumbent council member to lose their seat they have be been wrapped up in a scandal or commit a crime, which isn’t the case for Sara González, making it all the more surprising that she lost,” said Vargas-Ramos.

Other incumbent Latino council members were affected by electoral redistricting. While they didn’t lose their seats, their bases of support shrank, such as in the case of Melissa Mark-Viverito (District 8, which covers East Harlem and Mott Haven).

“The migration of whites to northern Manhattan and the Bronx, combined with redistricting, is causing Puerto Rican politicians to lose their historic influence,” explained Vargas-Ramos.

Regarding the special elections for State Assembly to fill the seats vacated after Vito López and Nelson Castro resigned in the wake of their respective scandals, Latinos will also fill the positions.

López’s District 53 will be represented by Maritza Dávila, while Víctor Pichardo, Héctor Ramírez and Yudelka Tapia wait for the vote recount to see which one of them wins in Castro’s District 86. The winner will face off against Republican René Santos in the general elections.

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