Amanda Séptimo, 27, Seeks to Bring New Leadership to Albany

Candidate Amanda Séptimo (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Until just a few months ago, the residents of District 84 in the Bronx did not really know Amanda Séptimo. However, starting in March and despite the chilly temperatures, the 27-year-old set a goal for herself after deciding to run for the State Assembly: To visit as many doors as she could by herself to allow people to meet her in person and to ask them to support her to get to Albany. She achieved that goal, and now wants to unseat Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo – who has held the position for 24 years – and to fight for her community.

“I want my people to give me a chance. I am a woman born and raised in the district where I am running. While I was in a youth program at 15, I understood the power that comes with politics, and I want to use it to change my district,” said the political science expert, who used to work for the office of Rep. José Serrano as a liaison with the community, as well as with the public schools union.

“The Bronx is getting worse and worse. Every crisis the city feels is worse in the Bronx. Rents are killing us. We have the worst schools in the city, the poorest borough, the highest asthma rates in the country, and there is a leadership crisis,” said the politician, who is described by her supporters as a very smart and humble woman.

Séptimo added that she knows what she will do from the legislature if she wins the election.

“I believe that education and schools are the most important things for us to work on. I want to start an adopt-a-school pilot program for corporations and also promote after-school programs to give opportunities and resources to the kids so they don’t have to hang out in the streets,” said the Democrat.

“A very important thing will be to keep community centers open until midnight again during the summer. Sometimes youths just want to be somewhere with their friends without having to be afraid of the street. I know that if we do that and create more jobs and fight against high rents and invest in opportunities to train our community in technology, construction and environmental jobs, the Bronx will be different.”

Although she admits that she deeply respects her district’s current assemblywoman, Séptimo said that, in the last few years, Arroyo’s influence has not been felt in Albany.

“I think that she did a good job at first, and that is why people saw her as a leader and elected her, but not anymore. And we cannot stay in the past. She and the district stayed behind due to lack of action and because she did not work to obtain more resources for us,” said the candidate. “This is not a personal attack, but she is just not doing the job.”

(…) Séptimo said that, unlike other politicians, her strategy was to refuse corporate money, explaining that she does not want to be hand-tied or owe anything to anyone when she reaches the Assembly.

“I knock on doors as if I were a neighbor because that’s what I am, and I come to talk about what is happening. People tell me that they had never seen politicians visiting them in their homes. I feel that by doing this direct work we are making a difference,” said the young politician. “If we win, it will be because of the people. And because we do not owe anyone any favors, we will work freely for the people by doing politics in a different way.”

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