As Bronx voters slowly trickle in to cast their ballots at the Mount Saint Michael Academy polling station in Wakefield, Paul Jecel, 52, was shuffling between voting machines, answering questions, and helping people find their names on voter rolls.
Jecel, who is an employee at the local postal office, has volunteered to help for one simple reason: to convince Wakefielders that casting ballots can make a difference in their neighborhoods. The neighborhood lies at the Bronx-Westchester border, far away from the election hubbub of major cities, and Jensen says not a lot of people seem interested to come out and vote.
Q: Why do you think people should vote today?
Jecel: People should vote to make a difference in the Wakefield neighborhood. Going out there and casting a ballot is part of the democratic process that empowers Americans and gives them the ability to influence the decisions taken by the City Council.
Q: What sort of change do you want to see in Wakefield after this election?
Jecel: I want to see an improvement in the basic services that are controlled by the City Council. There needs to be more garbage pick-up trucks and better transportation. But more importantly, I want to see less unjust policing. We want more protection but no intimidation and harassment. You don’t need to stop and frisk just because a person is black.
Q: What do you think is the number one issue the City Council needs to address in the Bronx?
Jecel: The economic situation is by far the most important issue. We’re always hearing that big corporations are making record-breaking profits here and there, so how come we still have no jobs?
Q: How do you evaluate the electoral campaigns? Do you think they were effective in encouraging people?
Jecel: The campaigns haven’t changed much. Candidates say the same thing over and over again: better economy, less crime, improved education, etc. It feels like we are given the same pacifier each time a candidate runs for election. It all feels like a big game, which I believe is deterring people from voting.
Q: Who do you think will end on the mayor seat, and what would you like to tell that person?
Jecel: I think Bill de Blasio will eventually win. Although I’m a republican, I believe he is the most able candidate. But whoever wins the seat, I like to tell them to be true to their ideals and to themselves, and to remember why they ran in the first place.