Race to fill City Council seat tightens ahead of special election as Bronx candidates battle for Seabrook seat
The crowded race to fill the City Council seat vacated by disgraced Bronx politician Larry Seabrook is tightening up with under a month before the special election, recent filings show.
Meanwhile, the north Bronx contest could become a test case for new city campaign finance rules established in response to the “super PAC” trend in national politics. The next filing date is Oct. 25 and could include the disclosure of independent spending.
The Nov. 6 election will be the first subject to the new city rules, which require individuals and interest groups such as unions to reveal their political expenditures.
Party-backed Democrat Andy King has extended his fundraising lead, according to campaign finance statements submitted last Friday. But two other candidates have raised more than $10,000 and a third is taking a hard line against “stop-and-frisk,” the controversial policing strategy criticized for targeting minorities.
“Stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional,” said Neville Mitchell, a criminal defense lawyer who has represented family members of police shooting victims Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham. “I will do everything in my power to make sure stop-and-frisk, as currently practiced, comes to an end.”
Six candidates will appear on the nonpartisan ballot: King, Mitchell, Pamela Johnson, Joseph Nwachukwu, Cheryl Simmons-Oliver and Garth Marchant. District 12 includes Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Baychester, Eastchester, Edenwald and Co-op City.
The seat is empty because Seabrook was convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in July for steering $1.5 million in public money to shady nonprofit organizations he controlled.
King, who unsuccessfully challenged Seabrook in 2009, has raised $28,371. The ex-union organizer has received 379 contributions, including over 50 from people affiliated with 1199 SEIU, the healthcare workers union.
Top King contributors also include 32BJ SEIU, the building workers union, state Assemblyman Carl Heastie, chairman of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, and City Councilman James Vacca (D-East Bronx).
Simmons-Oliver has raised $16,391. But the policy analyst for Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) has outspent King 3-to-1, racking up $47,741 in bills. She owes $26,000 to campaign manager Jerry Williams, a veteran political operative.
Nwachukwu, a city social worker and Anglican pastor who moved into the district from Soundview about five months ago, has raised $13,044. He owes 2/3 to contributors from outside the city, including fellow members of the Nigerian diaspora.
“Members of my church and members of the community asked me to run because they believe in me,” he said. “They trust me to bring integrity to the community.”
Mitchell, a Jamaican immigrant who grew up in Olinville, has raised $4,306, including more than $2,000 from his own pocket.
Nwachukwu and Mitchell believe District 12 needs more police officers and youth programs to stem drug and gang problems.