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Foster Quiet on Future Plans; Several Candidates Eye Her City Council Seat

January 13, 2009

FosterCouncil Member Helen Diane Foster will face a number of challengers should she decide to run for a third term in District 16, which includes the neighborhood of Morris Heights.

Last year, Foster was said to be mulling a run for Bronx borough president, but now that term limits have been extended, she may seek another four years in office when her current term expires at the end of 2009.

Foster failed to respond to phone calls seeking clarification, but the ongoing speculation surrounding her possible candidacy has had some candidates rethinking their plans.

Zena Nelson, president and founder of the South Bronx Food Cooperative, has already dropped out. “I don’t want to deal with the term limits issue going on and feel it’s more important for me to work on the food co-op than deal with politics,” she said.

Carolyn D. Jones, the community liaison for Bronx State Senator, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, will only run if Foster doesn’t, a spokesperson said, because Jones feels Foster is doing a good job and that unseating an incumbent is very difficult.

Candidate Daryl Johnson, 37, said he would run regardless of Foster’s decision. “The district needs much better representation,” he said. “Helen Foster has not been responsive to this community. She’s missed several important votes like congestion pricing. Her staff doesn’t know where she is half the time.”

Johnson pointed out that Foster once gave $127,000 in discretionary funds to the St. Barnabas Hospital Board of Trustees, to which her mother belongs. Since St. Barnabas is not located within District 16, Johnson said the money did not serve Foster’s constituents.

Echoing Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Johnson’s slogan declares, “Change is coming, be a part of it.”  He hopes to bring change by offering “representation, accessibility and accountability.”

Some of Johnson’s ideas include providing free blood pressure checks in beauty salons, incorporating brain-cooling technology in hospitals to reduce the amount of brain damage for heart attack victims, and increasing local residents’ access to the Internet.

Johnson currently works for a Manhattan brokerage firm. He’s also the long-serving president of the Morris Avenue Tenants Coalition in Morrisania. His campaign Web site is at www.daryl2009.com.

Like Johnson, Carlos Sierra, a Community Board 4 board member, is a fresh face on the political scene. According to his campaign website (www.votesierra.com), he hopes that “one day our community will elect leaders that will put children, health and education as first priorities on their legislative agenda.”

Sierra said in an e-mail: “I have been involved with the community, knocking on doors, and walking down the street with my neighbors. The realities of our economy are placing extra pressure on an already stressed community. We are going to need someone who has come from the trenches to fight in the trenches. I am that person, and I feel that when it comes to District 16 I am the person who will do the best job.”

Sierra came to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at age 14, unable to speak English and forced to bag groceries to provide for his family. He realized that he “needed to do more,” so he enrolled at Bronx Community College and acquired a Bachelor’s degree at Lehman College.

In 2005, Sierra won an Edward T. Rogowsky internship and interned in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Jose Serrano.  “Congressman Serrano showed me that helping people through public office was a real possibility,” he said.

Adrianne Moses, a Community Board 3 board member and a longtime education advocate, is also running, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board. Moses didn’t return a reporter’s calls to confirm her candidacy, and doesn’t appear to have a campaign Web site.

Joel R. Rivera, who runs a youth program at Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC) in Highbridge, is yet another candidate. Rivera (no relation to Bronx Council Member Joel Rivera) couldn’t be reached by press time. He has a campaign Web site at www.electjoelrrivera.com.

Elsewhere in the west Bronx, Council Member Maria Baez (District 14) has already stated her intention to run for a third term. Like Foster, Baez was term limited – meaning she was blocked from seeking another term in office – until the City Council voted to extend term limits in the fall.

The primaries will be held in September; the elections in November.



One Response to “Foster Quiet on Future Plans; Several Candidates Eye Her City Council Seat”

  1. Michelle Reyes on February 13th, 2009 7:08 pm

    I didn’t know about this neighborhood newspaper and I am glad I can share my thoughts. I live on Walton avenue near Mount Eden avenue. The Youth issue is rising and causing a distrubance in our community. I don’t know if you are aware of the shooting that occured during our annual block party. People from another area came over and shot several youths. My question is, what can bedone to encourage, guide and empower the the youths to turn away from violence? Summer is fast approching and the children need to be doing positive things.

    Thank you for your time

    Michelle Reyes

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