How to Help Dismantle The Bronx Political Machine on February 23rd

Crespo, Diaz Jr, & Heastie are part of a political disease in The Bronx that needs to be cured/Image via NILP

Next month on February 23rd, thanks to former City Council member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo prematurely vacating her seat, there will be an opportunity for Bronx residents of the 17th New York City Council District in The Bronx to SAY NO MORE CORRUPTION!

For far too long the Bronx political machine has had a stranglehold on who WE as residents of The Bronx get to vote for rather than the other way around.

Although there are approximately 10 candidates running for this seat only one person has a proven track record with constituents in the district and that person is Julio Pabón who’s running for the vacant city council seat in district 17.

Before I continue, I must declare that I am volunteering for Julio Pabón’s campaign as I did in the past in 2013 when for the first time, Arroyo was challenged and people of the district spoke out with their votes and Pabon garnered and impressive 32% of the votes against a powerful incumbent.


Simply because Julio Pabón understands our district and borough and he knows that The Bronx is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Gabriel Ponce de Leon wrote for the Gotham Gazette in a scathing and damning article about the Bronx machine:

“By the time Julio Pabón got called in for his interview with the Bronx Democratic County Committee, he had heard all the chatter. Political insiders were saying that party leadership had already chosen a candidate. What’s more, Pabón had seen a telling flyer for a Christmas event to be held at a local public school. It had been emailed, on Dec. 8, from the state Senate account of Ruben Diaz Sr. At the head of the flyer were portraits of New York Republican Party Chair Ed Cox and the senator himself, alongside a relatively unknown community board manager—Rafael Salamanca—the rumored choice of the county organization in the upcoming special election for the District 17 City Council seat, from which Maria del Carmen Arroyo recently resigned.

In Pabón’s retelling, Crespo opened the interview with an assurance that, contrary to what he may have heard, the committee was yet to settle on a candidate. It was how the interview ended, however, that further cemented Pabón’s belief that the opposite was in fact true. Crespo asked him, Pabón recalled to Gotham Gazette, whether he would step aside if the committee chose to support another candidate.

One week later, on Dec. 18, at a holiday event hosted by party leaders in the Bronx, Diaz Sr. and Crespo all but endorsed Salamanca, whose candidacy was still unofficial, before the assembled crowd. Pabón, in the meantime, got word from an influential stakeholder that the county chair had called to solicit support for the district manager. On Dec. 29, Diaz Sr. sent another flyer, this one for a Three Kings Day event, with Rafael Salamanca alongside the senator, Crespo, and Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda. 

“I put in work to get to where I’m at,” the Community Board 2 district manager said. “And I’m pretty sure…I went through the interview process just as everyone else went through the interview process, and I had to wait to get a phone call to tell me, ‘Hey Raf, the committee has met and decided that you are the best-qualified individual for the seat.’ I was home sweating like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?'”

Jullio Pabon for City Council District 17 in The Bronx
Jullio Pabón for City Council District 17 in The Bronx

For Pabón, however, there was never any suspense. Earlier in the year, he had met Crespo for lunch to discuss his interest in running for the District 17 seat in 2017, when Arroyo would have been term-limited. During that meeting, Pabón told Gotham Gazette, the newly minted Democratic chair asked him: “What would happen if we were to endorse you and you have a different position than the borough president or my own?”

“They are totally afraid of differences,” said Pabón (pictured below), a community activist and entrepreneur who, in 2013, challenged the incumbent Arroyo in the Democratic primary for the District 17 seat. “They want a candidate they can easily mold, rather than one who thinks independently. They think their plan for the Bronx can only happen if they have total control.”

“My contention has always been that it’s a facade,” Pabón said. “County leadership is trying to show that they are different from past organizations, which were all about exclusion and nepotism. But where else do you have a borough that is essentially run by four families? Where are the reformers in the Bronx?”

The article goes on to say a lot of which we already know:

“For the most part, there has not been a major change in terms of how inclusive the whole process is,” Angelo Falcón, a political scientist and founder of the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, told Gotham Gazette. “It’s not necessarily a process of democratization, but more a transition from one set of elites to another. You have a certain disruption: new players come in, old players move out.”

“In the Bronx,” Falcón added, “you still have a relatively small number of politicians controlling everything, and mechanisms like community boards are not very strong.”

Critics of the Bronx establishment argue that community boards serve as rubber stamps for the borough president, currently Ruben Diaz Jr. “Salamanca is, in essence, already an employee,” said Aubrey-Eric Smith, vice president of the South Bronx Community Association, who is advising the Pabón campaign. “[Salamanca] serves at the pleasure of the borough president.” – Read the entire article: Special Election Spotlights Machine Politics in The Bronx

The Bronx political machine is AFRAID of a candidate like Julio Pabón because he is not a career politician but an activist since he was in his teens. He is not someone that the machine can mold into their own agenda which is why the establishment will do anything to keep control of all political seats in The Bronx.

The Bronx is NOT for sale.
The Bronx is NOT for sale.

That’s why on February 23rd, if you live in Council District 17 in The Bronx (you can check if you live in the 17th district at New York City Council’s website) you need to come out and have your voices heard and for myself, Julio is the one who can truly be allied with the community and not special interests of politicians, developers, and others who look to destroy the fabric of our communities.

If you believe that The Bronx is not for sale then please stand with Julio Pabón.

Want to help the campaign? You can do so by volunteering, host an eventor even making a secure donation online. Every little bit goes a long way towards defeating corruption in The Bronx and truly taking control of our destiny.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.