Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bronx

Underdog candidate hopeful ramps up campaign in  South Bronx against Assembywoman Carmen Arroyo 

Maximino Rivera hits the streets to press his case for election

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Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Maximino Rivera


Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Maximino Rivera campaigns for the state Assembly at 138th St. and Brook Ave.


Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Maximino Rivera campaigns for the state Assembly at 138th St. and Brook Ave.

State assembly hopeful Maximino Rivera is a new candidate with old school values - an underdog with organizing chops.
His opponents are longtime Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo and frequent challenger Charles Serrano, a former police officer.
Arroyo is favored to defeat both insurgents and retain her 84th District seat in the Democratic primary election Thursday.
The Mott Haven matriarch is backed by the Bronx Democratic County Committee and her daughter, City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, and has served in Albany for 18 years.
But as few as 3,000 voters will decide the election and Rivera is running a vigorous campaign.
"We're gaining momentum," he said last week, shaking hands with passersby on E. 138th St. "We're in the buildings. We're out on the street. We're at the subway stations."
Rivera is a retired postal service worker and union shop steward. For years, he worked by night and organized tenants by day as director of Pueblo en Marcha, a community group. Rivera has known Arroyo for decades.
"I campaigned for her years ago but now the people are asking for change," the Vietnam War veteran claimed. "I go to the buildings where she used to be strong, like the Michelangelo Apartments where she used to live, and the people are asking for change."
When Lenore Brown, 35, stopped to greet Rivera, the candidate vowed to open a storefront district office and talked about ending the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy.
Brown said her son, a college student, has been unfairly frisked.
"My brother is a marathon runner, a harmless guy, and they stopped him, too," said Rivera, an avuncular Puerto Rico native.
The incumbent insists she has nothing to worry about. Arroyo has earned the "grandma vote," a political source said, and she recently sponsored a popular new law that will certify qualified high school graduates as bilingual.
"My campaign is going well," she said last week. "My friends will come out and vote for Carmen Arroyo like they always do."
But Arroyo sued to knock Rivera off the ballot and her colleagues drew his home two blocks out of her district as part of the reapportionment process, he noted.
His campaign literature features newspaper headlines linking Arroyo to nepotism and corruption. Her grandson received prison time in 2010 for looting a nonprofit that she founded and steered taxpayer money to.
He used the cash to buy clothes, bankroll her campaign and renovate her district office but Arroyo was never charged.
"Maybe they want to tell people I'm a thief," Arroyo said last week, bristling. "I'm not a thief."
But Citizens Union, the public watchdog organization, cited ethics concerns when it endorsed Rivera last month.
Brown said she knows little about Arroyo despite living in the district for 20 years. The Mott Haven mother of four left Rivera with a simple message.
"Do one thing for the youth, you got my vote," she said.
Rivera has failed to disclose his campaign finances with the state. Arroyo has filed disclosure reports but her campaign was $25,707 in debt as of Sept. 2.
dbeekman@nydailynews.com
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