As Trial Begins, Field to Replace Bronx Councilman Quietly Takes Shape

As Trial Begins, Field to Replace Bronx Councilman Quietly Takes Shape

November 07, 2011 at 10:42 am

Justice has not been especially swift for Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook: almost two years have passed since he was indicted on federal charges for allegedly bilking taxpayer-funded nonprofits – and forging a receipt for a $177 bagel and soda.

All the while, potential successors, smelling blood in the water, have quietly plotted their run for a coveted open Council seat that will automatically occur if Seabrook is convicted. With Seabrook’s long-awaited trial beginning today, their time may have finally arrived.

Five people have created campaign committees to run for the seat and at least one, community activist and union organizer Jerome Rice, has led rallies calling for Seabrook to resign.

Potential replacements emerged to take over the seat of Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook, who was indicted two years ago for allegedly embezzling taxpayer money. Photo courtesy of City Hall News.

Others who have created committees include civil rights activist Andy King – who along with Rice ran unsuccessfully in 2009 against Seabrook and would have pre-existing name recognition – Cheryl Simmons-Oliver, Michael Welch and Pamela Johnson. (Only King and Simmons-Oliver both had raised any money for a run as of the July filings).

Bronx insiders say the most important factor in who ultimately emerges from the prospective nonpartisan special election may well be the backing of Bronx Democratic Leader Carl Heastie, whose Assembly district also overlaps with Seabrook’s Council district.

None of the candidates who have expressed interest are in Heastie’s inner circle, said one Bronx insider, who said Heastie has instead taken a shine to an up-and-coming district leader named Jamaal Bailey.

Heastie and Bailey, a CUNY law school student, ran on the same ticket and were on the same petitions during the 2010 elections.

“He definitely would be near the top of the list,” said the insider said. “I think he might be the guy.”

Bailey, like other potential candidates for the not as-yet-vacant seat, did not return requests for comment. Heastie, who also did not return a request for comment, himself has kept quiet about succession plans, sources said, since Seabrook’s charges are pending and Heastie counts Seabrook as a mentor.

Another person in Heastie’s inner circle who could be a strong contender for his support is Marricka Scott-McFadden, the deputy chief clerk at the Bronx Board of Elections who is Heastie’s former chief of staff.

“It is disrespectful to talk about a potential special election,” Scott-McFadden said. “Councilman Seabrook has been a fighter for our community for decades. I am happy serving the people of the Bronx in  my current position.”

“If she wants it, I think county would have to give it to her,” said another Bronx insider. “No one would be closer to Carl.”

On the other hand, Scott-McFadden would have to give up a cushy job at the Board of Elections in order to run. J.C. Polanco, a Bronx Republican who chairs the New York City Board of Elections, said he didn’t know whether Scott-McFadden might be interested, but said she had been a “great addition to our Bronx borough office” and that the “experience she gained as Chairman Heastie’s chief of staff has given her tremendous insight into public service.”

Others coming up in conversations among Bronx politicos include Algernon Quattlebaum, who ran in 2009, and Bronx deputy clerk Shirley Saunders, who ran in 2001.

Seabrook, who did not return requests for comment, has kept the lowest of low profiles since his indictment, introducing not a single bill since his re-election in 2009 and registering the Council’s worst attendance record. His trial is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. today in Manhattan Federal Court.

Read the full post at City Hall News.