Vol. 13, No. 25    Dec. 28, 2000 - Jan. 10, 2001


Special City Council Election Will Decide Fordham Rep  
Jose Rivera, Elected Assemblyman, to Vacate Council Seat Jan. 1


A special election for the 15th City Council district will decide who will occupy the seat being vacated by Councilman Jose Rivera, who was elected to the state Assembly in November. Four candidates will run, including the councilman's son, Joel Rivera, a 21-year-old Fordham University student; community organizer Edward O. Ortiz, Jr.; Joseph Padilla, a state corrections officer; and Julio Mu_oz, a former member of Community Board 6. The 15th Council District covers parts of Fordham Bedford, Belmont, Crotona and Tremont.

Although just 21 years old, political observers say Joel Rivera has a good shot at winning due to his father's political ties. He is expected get the official backing of the Bronx Democratic Party, headed by Roberto Ramirez, who tapped Rivera to run for the Assembly seat he vacated to devote his full energies to building the party.

Ortiz, also considered a strong contender in the race, is counting on his experience in community organizing to carry him into office. The 33-year-old, who announced his candidacy Dec. 20, was a housing organizer with the Crotona Community Coalition. He also founded the organization Young Adults Against Drugs and Alcohol. He currently works at Ortiz and Associates, a company he founded to help Bronx residents navigate government bureaucracies.

Padilla, Munoz and Ortiz all served together on Community Planning Board 6 in the past decade. "We're running in a similar situation," said 33-year old Padilla, a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Everything has been controlled by the Bronx Democratic Party. We need change."

Ortiz agreed, saying the process of electing candidates is often unfair. "This is a democracy and we should have a democratic process," he said. "What's happening is they're not allowing other people who have experience be part of the process."

Ortiz and Padilla said they thought Joel Rivera doesn't have the experience necessary to serve in the City Council. "This is not a monarchy where an elected official goes on to leave the position to his son," Ortiz said. The Norwood News was not able to contact Joel Rivera despite leaving messages with his father and his mother, who is the district manager of Community Board 6.

Mayor Giuliani will determine the date of the election within 30 days of the termination of Jose Rivera's term on Jan. 1. The election, which is unofficially slotted for mid-February, will probably suffer from very low voter turnout because of the short campaign and the fact that only one race will be on the ballot.

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