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Reed Wins

By Jose B. Rivera

Philip Reed WINS!
Philip Reed, former Democratic District Leader from Manhattan Valley, won the September Democratic Primary and then went on to win in the November General election to become East Harlem’s next Councilman. Councilman Reed will represent East Harlem in the 8th Councilmanic district. image

Surprise Victory
He surprised everyone by beating out a healthy field of candidates consisting of who’s who in East Harlem politics. This field of candidates included newcomer Federico Colon (former Adam Powell chief of staff), the venerable Democratic District Leader Wilma Sena, community activist and artist Edwin Marcial, school board member and Legislative Council to State Senator Olga Mendez, Jorge Vidro and community activist Curtis Kirkman. The results of the vote were as follows:

Philip Reed 42%
Federico Colon 22%
Wilma Sena 19%
Edwin Marcial 9%
Jorge Vidro 5%
Curtis Kirkman 3%

Mr. Reed’s win surprised many because he was not among those predicted to win. Political pundits expected the black vote to be split between Ms.Sena and Mr. Reed, allowing Mr. Colon to squeak in barely in front of Mr. Vidro or visa versa. What did split was the Hispanic vote;

Federico Colon 22%
Edwin Marcial 9%
Jorge Vidro 5%

Enough of the black vote went to Mr. Reed that he was able to fend off Federico Colon’s growing campaign. Mr. Reed garnered 42% of the vote compared to Mr. Colon’s 22%. District Leader Wilma Sena came in third with 19% of the vote (a very good showing). Mr. Reed did an amazing job of obtaining and keeping a high percentage of black voters. He garnered more votes than the three Hispanic candidates combined. East Harlem Hispanics continue to vote in lower numbers than Black voters, even though Hispanics make up more of the electorate than Blacks do.

Gnashing of Teeth
Mr. Reed’s win has some Hispanic Leaders gnashing their teeth in frustration. They see East Harlem as a primarily Hispanic district and feel they have lost a “Hispanic” seat to the black community. Hispanic leaders point to the fact that they never challenge black leadership in Harlem or Central Harlem. They see these communities as Black, necessitating Black representation. They also see East Harlem necessitating Hispanic representation. This “Black Encroachment” into matters “Hispanic” has some Hispanic leaders “totally upset and frustrated”

They worry about their future and about what Mr. Reed will do in terms of supporting Hispanic leaders in the future. But they have no one to blame but themselves. Hispanic leaders have not engaged Hispanic voters as they should.

A Matter of Trust
Some Hispanic leaders do not trust Mr. Reed to be supportive of Hispanic candidates. One Hispanic District Leader even asked Councilman Reed to pledge his encouragement and support for Hispanics running for elective office in East Harlem. Trust between some Black and Hispanic leaders in East Harlem is tenuous at best and may be the first casualty of Reed’s election to the city council.

Formula for Success
It should be an interesting four years for Mr. Reed. He will undoubtedly be challenged in 2001. It is possible that Mr. Reed can pull a “Carolyn Maloney”. Council member Maloney stayed in office by providing the East Harlem community with the services it deserved. She gave it her best and everyone noticed it. Mr. Reed will do well to follow her formula. He has already ensured some success by making former Assemblyman Francisco Diaz on his Chief-of-Staff. Mr. Diaz will add a down home feel and his own strategic sense of the community to the Reed office. The Reed-Diaz team is a formidable combination that may hurt those who make the mistake of taking it lightly. 1998 should prove interesting. In addition, Councilman Reed’s decisions on political matters will be quite telling, especially as they pertain to 1998’s local elections.

East Harlem Online congratulates Mr. Reed on his election to the city council and wishes him well in all his endeavors.

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