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Challengers for Melissa?

By Jose B. Rivera

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-ViveritoEast Harlem- January 7, 2009. Now that the year has begun, it is time to turn our attention to one of the many upcoming elections that will take place this year.  It is hard to believe but East Harlem’s City Council race is fast upon us.  Who knew time would past so fast? Current East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has the greatest advantage in being the incumbent. She has been the most visible elected official in East Harlem for any kind of event since her election in 2005.  This says much about here determination to represent the community. And it says a lot about the lack of attention other elected officials don’t pay to our community.

Councilwoman Mark-Viverito attained her current position by garnering 25% of the vote in the September 2005 Democratic Primary.  If the number of those who support her remains the same, then she can expect a tough uphill fight in the upcoming Democratic primary from the challengers below.  If she has increased support during the last four years, then all challengers will face the uphill battle to unseat her.

Just who are these possible candidates? The rumor mill is churning with the following names as potential candidates and challengers to Councilwomen Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Nelson Antonio Denis
Former East Harlem Assemblyman Nelson Antonio Denis has been rumored to be interested in the city council seat.  He has a history of being a hard and dedicated campaigner and a great public speaker.  He also has a history of unseating incumbents.  Not a bad skill especially if one wants to unseat an incumbent. Other Denis pluses are his ability to bring diverse groups of people together, his genuine friendliness, and his retention and dissemination of salient facts.  In other words, he gets along with others, knows what he is talking about and how to convey to an audience.

Hector Santana
Former Adam C. Powell, Chief of Staff, and Empire State Development Corporation administrator has also been rumored to want to run for the East Harlem city council seat.  Mr. Santana is experience in putting together business initiatives which pan out and work. He has been instrumental in creating the East Harlem Tourism Board.  He has also implemented business initiatives in both East Harlem and Washington Heights.  He volunteered at ground zero after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. It seems Hector Santana is ready to seek elective office,

How does all this pan out?  It all depends on two things.  How much stronger or weaker Councilwoman Mark-Viverito has gotten over the last four years and how her challenger’s do during the campaign.  Incumbencies are a great thing to have when you win by a majority, but when you win with only 25% of the vote the odds may not be with the incumbent. Only time, a lot of work and energies will tell.  It will also greatly help the councilwoman if she continues to received the support of the 1199 union.

It remains to be seen if anyone will in fact challenge Councilwoman Mark-Viverito.  What what success if any they may have. Four years is a long time for the Councilwoman to solidify her base of support and add to it.  Odds are always in favor of the incumbent, incumbent slayers not withstanding.  What do you think?

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