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Haile Rivera Suspends Council Bid

June 16, 2008

HaileIs it all over before it began?

Community activist and University Heights resident Haile Rivera has decided to press the pause button on his run for City Council.

“I’m suspending my campaign,” he said in an interview this afternoon.

Rivera, 30, had been after Maria Baez’s 14th District seat. He first announced his candidacy in September, two years before the term-limited Beaz would be forced to step down. Since then, Rivera’s sent out a barrage of e-mails attacking the very attackable Baez, outlining his positions, and reaffirming his desire to run.

Just last month, Rivera sent an e-mail to the media that read: “As far as my 2009 City Council candidacy for the 14th District in the Bronx, I can tell you that IT IS STILL ON.”

But a month, they say, is a long time in politics. As of today, everything is on hold, for Rivera’s been bitten by the Barack Obama bug.

Rivera first became aware of Obama in 2000 when he saw and heard the then state-senator on C-Span. Ever since, he’s followed his career closely, even breaking bread with him, on the back of a small donation.

Earlier this year, Rivera upped and left the Bronx to work on Obama’s quest for the Democratic nomination. With the nomination confirmed, Rivera’s now been offered a position as a campaign organizer in Florida. He plans to take it, unless a better job offer comes up on Obama’s “Advance Team.” Either way, Rivera says, he’ll be tied up until November’s election, giving him little time to get his own political career off the ground.

“I’m putting aside my personal ambitions,” he says.

Rivera also doesn’t want people accusing him of wrapping himself in Obama’s success to further his own agenda. “I want to be able to say I’m 100 percent behind Obama, and not have people say I’m doing this for [my own] political reasons,” he says.

Rivera may resurrect his City Council campaign in early 2009, but he admits it’ll be difficult to build momentum again in time for an election. Plus he has other commitments: he heads a small non-profit called Hands On New York, and runs – from afar – a foundation in the Dominican Republic which supports young boys who work as shoe-shiners.

“I have a lot of projects,” he says.

With his campaign frozen – if not officially dead – Rivera does have one awkward situation to resolve: what to do with his campaign money. Not that there’s much of it; he raised just $1700, most of it in a two-week drive last December. He said he might ask his supporters if he can give their contributions to Obama’s campaign.

So with Rivera out (at least for now), who else has their eye on Baez’s seat? Being that the election is 18 months away, the field is still coming together. According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, only Yudelka Tapia, a community activist who ran against Luis Diaz for the 86th District Assembly seat in 2002, is officially on the ballot.

Others in the mix include: Nelson Castro, a former staffer of Washington Heights Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat; Fernando Cabrera, the pastor of New Life Outreach International Church; and Mount Hope resident Hector Ramirez, the Bronx’s District Leader, and currently the only Dominican elected official in the borough.

By JAMES FERGUSSON of the Mount Hope Monitor


3 Responses to “Haile Rivera Suspends Council Bid”

  1. Elpidia Jimenez on June 17th, 2008 8:27 am

    He was/is our only chance for a real leader in our neighborhood. I hope he reconsiders because if he’s not running, I (including my family of 7) will not be voting for anyone else.


  2. Carmen on June 17th, 2008 1:10 pm

    I think Haile did the right thing. We are sad, but in the end HE IS GOING TO BE THE WINNER, and we have to understand that he is going to be better man to represent us and serve to all the people living in the conditions that the system politic has been permitting that we live. Just keep Haile in our prayer.

  3. Joey on June 17th, 2008 10:58 pm

    Although Haile is putting his run for council on hold, it does not mean he will stop helping out the community. Being the younger brother of Haile, I personally know that he finishes anything he starts, so we shouldn’t be discouraged from his campaign. He knows what it takes to start from the bottom and work his way up. and I am sure he will triumph. I take tremendous pride in saying that my brother has been and will continue to be my mentor, for it takes great endurance and stamina to do what he does for the community. This year(06/18) I will be graduating high school and moving on to college, and I can say that I am proud of myself, but but honored to have a brother like the one I have.


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