After winning Bronx council seat, King must run again


After a failed attempt in the 2009 primary, Andy King won a Bronx seat in the City Council on Nov. 6 after beating out five other candidates. Now, he has to prepare to run again.

King won the seat that was left by former City Councilman Larry Seabrook when he was found guilty of nine counts of bribery, money laundering, and fraud. That means he’ll fill the remainder of Seabrook’s term, then run again in 2013 for the seat, which takes in Co-op City, Baychester, Bronxdale, and Williamsbridge.

In November, he beat out opponents Cheryl Simmons-Oliver, Pamela Johnson, Garth Marchant, Joseph Nwachukwu, and Neville Mitchell for the vacant seat. King, a Democrat, failed to win  in previous primaries, but came to this election with various high-powered endorsements, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Council Speaker Christine Quinn.  He was also endorsed by Local 1199SEIU, where he works as a community organizer.

During the campaign, many debates were held, but King only made it to one. He didn’t show up to a Bronxnet-sponsored televised debate, which was held on Oct. 27, nor a Working Families Party debate held on Nov. 3. Marchant called King out.

“Where is he, we’re all here speaking out our positions, but there’s one person missing,” Marchant said. “…. He’s using evasive tactics.”

When asked, King said he had good reasons for his poor debate attendance. “When I missed the first debate, it was because I was in the hospital. … I now have a clean bill of health. I’m grateful to find out that when I did go to the hospital, it was to find out I had some inflammation.”

The second debate King missed was right after Hurricane Sandy. After waiting for an extra hour, King’s campaign office said that he would not be coming to the debate because he was “helping residents of Eastchester Houses get their power back.” They wouldn’t comment any further.

Steven Orr has been a resident in Co-op City for close to 18 years and he said he voted for King. “I don’t care if he didn’t show up to the debates, that’s not going to change who I was going to vote for. I doubt Councilman King’s answers would have changed my vote.”

But other voters weren’t as forgiving. Ira Hescraft is a Co-op City resident who was originally going to vote for King, but instead opted to vote for Simmons-Oliver once King failed to show up to the second debate. “Andy was a no-show” Herschaft said. “If he had just come to the debate, I would have voted for him”

King won by an overwhelming margin, grabbing 80 percent of the vote, while   Simmons-Oliver, who was the runner up, was only able to grab 6 percent of the vote.  Johnson received 4 percent, while the remaining opponents split the rest.

When Simmons-Oliver was asked about King’s victory, she responded by saying “Andy now has an obligation to deliver.”

Local observers  say King won because he was active in the community and people had seen him in the past. After a failed 2009 City Council run, King stayed in the community and often took part in gatherings such as the Dominican Day Parade in the Bronx, and community enrichment events in Co-op City.

Long time resident Sharon Leon says she had never seen the other candidates until the day of the debate. “I have neither seen nor heard of the other candidates  until that day……and there’s just something about King that just makes me trust him.”

The day after the Working Families debate, King’s car was vandalized. A brick was thrown into his windshield. The next day, the Daily News reported that King said that the vandalism was done by a rival campaign team, but did not specify who. Instead, King said, “I’m going to use that brick to build up this community.”

While King’s term doesn’t start until January, he has been seen around the community trying to reach out to people.  His personal website says that he’s gone to community organizations, building associations, churches, and civic organizations to try to get their input as to how to better the community. On a separate occasion, when asked about his game plan, he said “it’s all about the community first.” He wants to “improve all communities of the district, strengthen the families, empower the youth, and create economic and social opportunities for everyone.”

Over the course of the campaign, King was able to raise close to $28,000 through donations from voters and organizations alike. This amount was more than double what Johnson and Simmons-Oliver raised,  according to city Campaign Finance Board records.

Stephanie Mass, a Co-op City resident, said that even though she has a low opinion of Seabrook, he will be missed. “He did a lot of the community, he brought money for the schools, my son’s library was remodeled, the high school’s swimming pool was re-opened after I don’t know how many years.”

King will enter the 2013 election with a council incumbency and a year to prove himself to local residents.

Photo: Andy King. Source: New York City Campaign Finance Board.


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