There were eight candidates at the Throggs Neck Forum held last night at Villa Barone. Eight candidates for the term-limited 13th City Council seat showed up, but only seven candidates left as one pulled out of the race. The night was filled with bashing the community board, bashing elected officials, and other non issue items by some of the candidates while the three main candidates stuck to the issues. The waterfront, lack of adequate police, lower performing schools, and overdevelopment.
There will be more forums and candidate debates before the September Democratic primary and November general election. If last night was any indication of what is to come this race is to close to call. Candidates gave out wrong information in their attempts to gain votes while their bashing efforts went on against one candidate who is an elected official, and one candidate who has the backing of the city councilman. The captions below the photo should tell you the rest of the story.
Above - The night started off well for Republican candidate John Cerini, but went downhill from there.
Below - Candidate John Doyle stayed on the issues that were important to the community, and spoke of his experience in the community.
Above - Republican candidate Lucia Giradi announces that she is pulling out of the race leaving Republican candidate John Cerini as the only Republican candidate. However Ms. Giardi also announced that she would be supporting candidate Mark Gjonaj in the 13th city council race.
Below - Candidate and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj speaks of his experience as a legislator, and how he can help provide the guidance that the community is asking for.
Above - Candidate Alex Gomez said that he was not a politician, that people should follow the money, and called for Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj to resign as an assemblyman to run for the city council.
Below - Candidate Victor Ortiz spoke of his experience working with Congressman Serrano, and that he worked to create bills in Albany.
Above - Candidate Egidio Sementelli Also attacked Assemblyman Gjonaj and the current elected officials. He said that he is the oldest candidate in the race.
Below - Candidate Velazquez said that she is a female district leader in the area, and has the support of the current councilman Jimmy Vacca as well as neighboring councilman Ritchie Torres, and several prominent female elected officials.
To a question about Ferry Point overdevelopment the responses went, Cerini - The Target mall is the cause of traffic and broken streets. Doyle - wants to sit down with the companies that have come into the area to work on solutions. Gjonaj - Spoke about the Capri Motel situation, and the tractor trailers that do not belong. Gomez - blamed the community board. Ortiz - Wants to build a recreation center. Sementilli - Went after Simone Developers (who built the Target Mall) and the elected officials. Velazquez - Said she is a member of the CAB of the Capri Motel, and hold the owner accountable.
To a question of the local precinct - Most candidates said they know the commanding officer or have been to Precinct Council meetings. Semetilli blamed Councilman Vacca for the low number of officer at the 45th Precinct, Gjonaj said that because the community is designated as a safe community the number of police officers is low, but would like to bring in the drug module program that the 49th Precinct has. Doyle said that because the precinct is so large he would push for more police officers.
There were a few more questions asked, but the responses seemed to be the same as the person asked last got the benefit of hearing those before them answer the question.
Some points I took during the forum.
Mr. Cerini said that there were 175 police officers at the 45th Precinct. I know as a fact that having been the Budget Chair for Community Board 8 and at the November 2015 Budget consultations with city agencies the boards were given a list of the number of police officers at each Bronx Precinct. The number in November 2016 was 135 officers at the 45th precinct. Mr. Cerini said to me he may have been wrong.
Also as a member of Community Board 8 Mr. Gomez and Mr. Ortiz could not tell me how community boards are in control of development in council districts. Community boards only come into play during the ULERP process which one did not know what it was. both said they did not really know after I told them.
I believe this is a two or three person race on the Democratic side to decide which Democrat will face Republican John Cerini in November. the three are Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Female District Leader Marjorie Velazquez, and Mr. John Doyle, however Mr. Doyle may be the deciding factor in this race one way or another. It is still to close to call on the Democratic side, and in future debates or forums that only the Democratic candidates be seated since they are competing to be Mr. Cerinis opponent.