Hussein drops out of District 2 Council race, endorses Vasquez

Erin Hussein

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Village resident and City Council candidate Erin Hussein ended her campaign to replace Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2 on Thursday. Hussein announced that she would be supporting Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez in the election.

She said that one of her primary reasons for withdrawing from the race and putting her support behind Vasquez is his background.

“I’ve lived here for a long time and got to know it even better during my campaign, but at the end of the day it makes the most sense to have the district represented by someone who is Latino, because he can speak to the unique issues from that part of the district,” she said. “The demographics are changing but that’s still true for the most part.”

Hussein added that she also felt Vasquez would fight for the issues important to the district, such as pushing for a public hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and advocating for rezoning around the proposed tech hub on East 14th Street to prevent out-of-context high-rises from popping up in the neighborhood, and was encouraged that Vasquez has not received donations from real estate developers.

“He gave me his word of honor that he would fight for a full hearing for the SBJSA and wasn’t going to vote in favor of the tech hub unless contextual rezoning was part of that, and his fundraising record doesn’t give me any reason not to believe him,” she said. “That made me feel very comfortable that I could take myself out of the equation and still win, in a way.”

Vasquez said that he was happy to receive Hussein’s endorsement.

“She has run a positive campaign about important issues in our neighborhoods, and I look forward to working with her moving forward,” Vasquez said. “I’ve been passionate about our community for my entire life, and I will use my energy, commitment, and experience to bring about real change.”

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T&V candidate survey

The Democratic primary for the City Council and mayoral races is on September 12. There is only one Republican candidate in the District 2 Council race and District 4 race, so there is no Republican primary for either. However, Town & Village reached out to all candidates in the two races, including the Republicans when asking these questions, which helped in this newspaper’s endorsement process. Read on for the answers from all candidates who responded by T&V’s 36-hour deadline on issues of transit woes, small businesses and the recent statue controversy. There was a 50 word limit per question although Town & Village let a few extra words slip in here and there in the interest of not gutting anyone’s answers. Those who didn’t respond were Erin Hussein, Jasmin Sanchez and Jimmy McMillan of District 2 and Maria Castro and Alec Hartman of District 4. Profiles of each candidate can be found on this website.

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Attorney running to replace Mendez

Jorge Vasquez, a lifetime Lower East Sider and attorney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez has his lifelong neighborhood to thank for his aspiring City Council candidacy. Vasquez, an attorney who is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, said that it was the local Boys & Girls Republic, as well as his mother’s influence, that got him involved in community advocacy.

“It was a tradition with me and my mom on Election Day where we would wake up and I would go with her to the polls,” he said, recalling that he and his mother also canvassed for Antonio Pagan, the City Councilmember for District 2 in the 1990s prior to Mendez’s predecessor, Margarita Lopez.

Vasquez said that he started attending programming at the Boys & Girls Republic, which offer youth the opportunity to participate in self-government, at age six and was putting bills together by age 10. When Vasquez joined, the program was known as the Boys Brotherhood Republic but the program later became part of the Henry Street Settlement and was renamed the Boys & Girls Republic.

“Those programs give youth the opportunity to be active in the community,” he said. “Being part of democracy, and even to be familiar with the courtroom and jury rules, is so important. I wouldn’t be an attorney without access to these programs and the advocacy it instilled in me.”

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District 2 Council candidates square off at forum

Residents watch the forum at Boys & Girls Republic

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Candidates running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez met to discuss the central issues of their campaigns at the Boys & Girls’ Republic on the Lower East Side this past Monday night. District 2 covers the area west of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to Fifth Avenue, covering Flatiron, the East Village, Alphabet City and parts of the Lower East Side, and stretching up to Kips Bay.

Democrats Ronnie Cho, Juan Pagan, Carlina Rivera, Jasmin Sanchez, Mary Silver and Jorge Vasquez and Republican Jimmy McMillan appeared at the forum to talk about affordable housing, small businesses, issues important to seniors and education. Democrat Erin Hussein is also running for the seat but was unable to attend the debate.

The Henry Street Settlement, along with the Women’s Political Caucus of New York, sponsored the event and Henry Street executive director David Garza moderated the discussion among the candidates. Garza started the conversation by asking the candidates to outline what they feel is the most important issue for the district and what they plan to do.

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