The Politics Of The Harlem River Divide In The 8th Council District

Only two New City Council districts cross borough lines, and only the 8th district spanning Manhattan and the Bronx actually crosses a river—in this case, the Harlem River—to do so.

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The water isn’t what makes the area interesting, however, but the fact that the district joins the traditional cultural heart of Latino New York (El Barrio/East Harlem) to southernmost part of the South Bronx, including Mott Haven, long one of the city’s most impoverished districts, does. There’s probably no neighborhood in the city more likely to gentrify—or gentrify more, since the process appears to have started already in at least some areas—and the possible rezoning of East Harlem has been controversial because of the real risk of displacement. That the outgoing Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, represents that district, that her trusted aide Diana Ayala is a leading candidate in the campaign to succeed her, and that Mark-Viverito’s handling of the rezoning could shape the race all make it a fascinating place to watch on September 12, 2017.

(For more on who’s running in the district encompassing El Barrio/East Harlem in Manhattan and Mott Haven, Highbridge, Concourse, Longwood and Port Morris in the Bronx, click here. And for news and video from a recent candidate forum in the district, go here.

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The Council district’s voters are split pretty evenly between the Manhattan (55,141 voters) and Bronx (51,663) sides, the result of a 2012-13 redistricting that expanded the Bronx footprint.

Just shy of 80 percent of voters are registered Democrats. Voters who identified no party when they registered outnumber Republicans in District 8 by better than three to one. Election results reflect these disparities. Mark-Viverito faced no general election opponent in 2005 and 2009 and bested her Republican challenger four years ago by a four-to-one margin.

Read the entire article here.

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