Andy King's campaign headquarters buzzed with activity on a recent Saturday morning.
Representatives from property services workers' union 32BJ collected palm cards to drop in mailboxes; residents of local housing project Boston Secor Houses made phone calls; and teenagers from nearby Evander Childs High School came to accompany King on his morning rounds.
At the center of it all was King himself, who wore a bright purple button-down shirt and a perfectly pressed khaki suit and stood at a table heaped with doughnuts and bagels. He greeted his would-be constituents with a giant, perfectly white smile.
King, 49, is one of six candidates running in a special, nonpartisan election for the City Council seat in District 12 in the northeast Bronx. The seat has been vacant since July, when City Councilman Larry Seabrook, 61, was ousted after being convicted of nine counts of corruption in a federal trial.
The other candidates are Joseph Nwachukwu, 54; Neville O. Mitchell, 48; Cheryl Simmons Oliver, 62; Garth Marchant, 58; and Pamela Johnson, 48.
King, a Democrat, has been endorsed by several of the city's Democratic officials, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. King's endorsements, coupled with the high amount of private funds he has raised for his campaign, are believed to give King the edge in the election.
King was born and raised in the Gun Hill Road area of the Bronx. His campaign slogan is "Bringing Unity Back to the Community," and he is running on a platform that stresses his history of outreach in the area.
"You can't keep it unless you give it away," he said. He's been serving his neighborhood since his teenage years, when he started a youth basketball league at Agnes Heyward Playground on 216th Street. King has worked in community service in New York for his entire career, most recently as an organizer at the healthcare workers' union 1199 SEIU.
Nwachukwu, an Anglican minister and city social worker, recently moved to the district and says he will bring more transparency to how city money is spent, according to a New York Times article published on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Mitchell grew up in the district and recently moved back to pursue a political career. He has spoken out on several occasions against the controversial Police Department tactic of stop-and-frisk, the Times article said.
Oliver is the only candidate who currently resides in Co-op City, a large apartment complex in the district and an important voting base. She's lived in the area for 47 years, and is "uniquely qualified to represent the interests of the citizens of the Wakefield and Co-op City areas," according to her campaign website.
Marchant previously ran for City Council in District 28, in Queens. He has owned and operated a charter bus company for more than 14 years, and has said that he wants to improve working conditions for city bus drivers.
In 1999 Johnson founded Urban Neighborhood Educational Technology for You, Inc., a program "designed to provide disconnected adults, senior citizens and children in the community free computer training," according to her campaign website. She's running on a platform that stresses her commitment to her nonprofit work and community activism.
Despite being projected as the frontrunner, King said that he was "comfortable, but not content," with his election prospects. He said he planned to push hard in the remaining days before the election, with a busy campaigning schedule that included stops at a nearby American Legion post as well as a baseball game at Evander High School, King's alma mater.
"I'm excited by the response from my district, and I look forward to being able to serve my neighborhood," he said.