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Council District 10

WNYC News

Eight in Race to Replace Ousted Councilman in Dominican District 10

Friday, September 11, 2009

by Marianne McCune
They say all politics are local. But in the northern tip of Manhattan, that may be more so. The 10th Council District includes much of Washington Heights, Inwood, and the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. There are eight City Council candidates vying to replace former Councilmember Miguel Martinez, whose seat is open because pleaded guilty to misusing taxpayer dollars and resigned. Now, as WNYC’s Marianne McCune reports, voters are looking for a candidate they know and trust.

This is the Dominican district.

MC for Dominican band: (IN SPANISH) You guys want Dominican music?!

Its perimeter was purposefully shaped to elect the first Dominican City Council member in 1991. Yes, there are others here - Puerto Ricans, African Americans and a handful of white people who aren’t Hispanic. But if there’s a street fair on Dyckman Street – you can be sure the band will play Merengue.

So when Dominican-born City Councilmember Miguel Martinez pleaded guilty to stealing more than $100,000 of public money and resigned, leaving his seat empty -- many here took it personally. As if Martinez was a nephew and what he did reflected badly on the whole family.

Polanco: No me enojo …

It’s sad, says Martin Polanco, but I’m not angry because we all make mistakes. A woman on another corner invokes the Bible, saying we’re all just fishermen and that hopefully Martinez will repent. Others worry all Dominicans will drop in the world’s esteem. And over an animated game of dominoes, Ramon Echevarria shakes his head disapprovingly, saying the Dominican community has to make sure it’s not seen as a jungle.Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Ramon Echevarria: … una jungla. Somos una communidad de avances.

And so, among the candidates for City Council, many here are looking for someone they can trust. And in the seemingly small town that is this neighborhood, someone they can trust often means someone they know – personally.

At a picnic celebrating the candidacy of community board chairman and teacher Manny Velasquez, Ana Julia Coronado says she’s voting for him because, as Dean at her son’s school, Manny helped turn her son around.Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

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