Debate for Bronx City Council Seat

Candidates for the 13th District City Council seat: (l-r) Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, 82nd Assembly District Leader Marjorie Velazquez, community activist John Doyle, and community activist Egidio Sementelli.
(Photo by David Cruz via Norwood News)

Three Democratic candidates for the 13th District City Council seat in the Bronx joined in criticizing their better known rival, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, at an Aug. 14 debate sponsored by BronxNet TV, writes David Cruz in Norwood News.

The candidates lobbed much of the mud at Gjonaj, pegging him as an established politician with heavy financial backing from the real estate sector. Even so, Gjonaj, the presumed frontrunner, stood stoic as he was needled by the candidates, which include community activist John Doyle, community activist and businessman Egidio Sementelli, and district leader for the 82nd Assembly District and Community Board 10 treasurer Majorie Velazquez.

“There’s two ways to run these campaigns—one on negativity, divisiveness, and one on the very positive, deliver the message and show the people of the 13th Council District what we’re going to be doing,” Gjonaj said. “My opponents obviously choosing the first step.”

Cruz writes that “in a Bronx where development has swept across the borough, the issue of overdevelopment also took center stage,” with Doyle noting Gjonaj’s real estate background in the context of zoning issues.

Gjonaj countered that he “can’t be bought” by developers, citing his introduction of the Tenant Rent Increase Exemption program bill that waives future rent increases on families making less than $50,000. “I am not going to be bought by any developer, or any special interest group. That’s my promise,” Gjonaj said. “And I haven’t been able to be bought in the past and I assure you that I’ll always work in the best interest of the people.”

Go to Norwood News to read what Sementelli and Velazquez had to say about a particular campaign contribution Gjonaj received, and how they focused on concerns about small businesses in the area. The 13th District covers the neighborhoods of Morris Park, Throggs Neck, Van Nest, Allerton, and Pelham Parkway and overlaps slightly with Gjonaj’s 80th Assembly District, covering Norwood, Allerton, Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, Van Nest, and Pelham Parkway. Current Council member James Vacca is term-limited.

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  1. Pingback: The Bay Ridge Race, De Blasio’s Public Funds: Headlines for Friday August 18 | City Limits

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