Stories

And the race goes on (slowly)

Candidates continue to campaign in a competitive Bronx contest for City Council

While many candidates running for state and federal office are keeping off the campaign trail in the wake of superstorm Sandy, those vying for the Bronx City Council seat vacated by Larry Seabrook are still pounding the pavement, albeit more tentatively.

Six hopefuls are competing to represent District 12 in the Bronx, which is up for grabs because Seabrook, a councilman since 2002, was convicted on federal corruption charges in July.

Voters in District 12 will be casting their ballots next week in a special election. Yesterday, The city’s Board of Elections said that voting on Tuesday will proceed as planned.

Andy King, the candidate who has raised the most money in the race to replace Seabrook, was out visiting voters starting at 11 a.m. yesterday, according to his campaign manager, Neva Shillingford-King — though she emphasized that after the storm, their campaign tactics had changed somewhat.

“We have to be sensitive to the fact that some people are going through some hardships,” she said. “Most important is people’s safety and making sure folks are ok.” She said King intended to campaign throughout the week, but added, “It may not be on the full scale that we would like because of the storm.”

Candidates campaign in fierce four-way Bronx council race amid destruction in Sandy’s wake. Photo courtesy of Elect Andy King

King, who ran against Seabrook in 2009 and lost, received a campaign boost from 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the union for which he used to be a labor organizer.  According to forms filed with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, the union spent about $4,500 on mailers supporting King that were intended to be sent its members.

King is not the only candidate carefully assessing how to proceed this week. Neville O. Mitchell, a criminal defense lawyer also competing to replace Seabrook, described yesterday as an “active campaign day.” But he, too, emphasized proceeding with caution. “To some folks it might be an intrusion,” said Mitchell of campaigning, noting that many people in the district may be occupied with fixing their houses and taking care of other needs.

The candidates were supposed to square off last night in a debate hosted by the Working Families Party and the Harriet Tubman Democratic Club, but the event was cancelled due to the storm. “It’s a tragedy,” said Mitchell. “There are six people running in the race and folks need to hear what people’s positions are.”

Cheryl Simmons-Oliver, a candidate who is an economic development advisor for Rep. Jose Serrano, is working to get that debate rescheduled, according to Leslie Frohberg, her campaign office coordinator. Simmons-Oliver spent yesterday “checking out the damage and seeing where she could be of help to people,” said Frohberg, who added that the campaign will be mobilizing volunteers and doing lit drops in the coming days.

All three campaigns said that they had seen downed trees in the district, and heard about utility outages in some areas. Frohberg said power was down in an area near 230th street.

Other candidates could not be reached or did not return requests for comment.