In order to gain a microcosmic perspective on the actual opinions of New Yorkers about the upcoming election, City & State and City Limits, in partnership with MetroFocus, present a new series: “The Five Borough Ballot.”
Mott Haven— It was standing room only on a Saturday afternoon in March at a South Bronx church known for its social activism streak, where residents came, hoping to hear the city’s mayoral candidates explain their positions on the issues.
There was only one problem: The three candidates considered frontrunners in next November’s election—City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson—were nowhere to be found.
Over 100 potential voters instead heard three other candidates—City Comptroller John Liu, standup comic Randy Credico and Green Party representative Anthony Gronowicz— state their cases, at the Resurrection Church near Mott Haven on March 9.
Local grassroots groups organized the event to acquaint residents with the candidates vying to represent them in City Hall.
Many expressed anger that Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson had ignored invitations to attend, saying it was an indication of the low regard in which the city’s power structure holds the South Bronx.
“I don’t know about you, but right now, I’m pissed off,” Pastor Kahli Mootoo of Bright Temple AME Church in Hunts Point bellowed into the mic, to sustained applause. “For them not to be here, I’m pissed off so bad, Monday morning I’m going to pick up the phone and I’m going to make some phone calls.”
One resident told the crowd that although politicians have long neglected the area, the buck stops with voters.
“We allow this stuff to happen to us,” said Rita Jones, of non-profit National Action Network’s Bronx division. “All we do is sit around looking out the window, cussing each other out,” she said, adding that advocates’ battles for Bronxites’ rights are “going to waste. If you’re not going to fight, then stop running your mouth.”
Continue reading this week’s Five Borough Ballot coverage on the City Limits website.