Candidates Get Mott Haven's Votes, But Not Its Confidence

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Incumbent City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, public advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and sitting Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., won the election precinct that includes Camaguey restaurant. But even their supporters were skeptical that these leaders could deliver.

Photo by: Taleen Dersdepanian, Karla Ann Cote

Incumbent City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, public advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and sitting Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., won the election precinct that includes Camaguey restaurant. But even their supporters were skeptical that these leaders could deliver.

This article is an installment in The Five Borough Ballot, a collaboration between City Limits, City & State and WNET’s MetroFocus. In each edition of the print and video series, we return to a location in each of the five boroughs to ask real New Yorkers their take on the 2013 election as it unfolds. For a complete overview of the series, go here

On Thursday, Janet Greenberg — manager of Camaguey restaurant at East 138th St. and Brook Avenue in Mott Haven — took down Anthony Weiner and Adolfo Carrión campaign signs from the storefront window and replaced them with a new banner advertising lunch specials.

Primary day came and went without much fanfare at Camaguey. By Friday, some still hadn’t tuned in to the mayoral race.

“Who won?” asked Angel Vega, 28, when stopped outside the restaurant and asked about the outcome of the Democratic primary, which still hadn’t been decided.

The Weiner sign in Camaguey’s window came courtesy of Awilda Cordero, whose boyfriend owns a barbershop on East 138th Street between Brook and Willis avenues, and who campaigned enthusiastically for Weiner until the end.

“The ones with their clothes on, they don’t do nothin’. Maybe him, he takes his clothes off, maybe he’ll do something for us,” said Noelia Rodriguez, 60, sitting outside the Judge Gilbert Ramirez Apartments polling site—less than a block from Camaguey—on East 138th Street on Primary Tuesday.

She said she voted for Weiner and also for City Council candidate Ralina Cardona, a Mott Haven resident among six candidates vying to unseat Melissa Mark-Viverito to lead District 8, spanning Mott Haven and East Harlem.

According to results posted by The New York Times, incumbent Mark-Viverito came in with 35.2 percent (3,446 votes), while Cardona got 18 percent (1,765 votes), with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Four other candidates split the remaining votes.

Camaguey lies in Assembly District 84, Election District 61, which was among those with no preliminary tally. According to New York City Board of Elections spokesperson Valerie Vazquez, that was because poll workers left the return of canvass blank.

After votes cast by lever machine were counted over the weekend, Vazquez said the results showed 36 people got behind Bill de Blasio for mayor, 31 cast ballots for Bill Thompson, 14 voted for Christine Quinn and 12 supported Weiner.

For City Council, Mark-Viverito came out ahead in ED 61 with 26 votes, while 20 people voted for Ed Santos and 13 supported Mott Haven’s own Cardona. ED 61 came out strong for Eliot Spitzer in the race for comptroller, casting 54 votes cast for him, more than double the 18 votes pulled in by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. received 72 votes, trouncing opponent Mark Escoffery-Bey, who received six votes, Vazquez said.

Diaz won a decisive victory for Bronx Borough President in the primary. Spitzer won most Bronx election districts amid a citywide loss to Stringer.

While she expressed some affection for “Anthony” and de Blasio, Camaguey’s Greenberg stuck to her rule of abstaining from local elections.

“I just vote for the president, that’s it,” she said. “They’re all the same. They say so many things and then they do the same thing.”

She shook her head knowingly when regular Vicente Mino, 69, stopped in for something to eat and vented his frustration with politics.

“They never ever come around the neighborhood ever. None of them,” he said.

“If they want our vote, come to the neighborhood,” he said. “They never ever come — except Jimmy Carter — to the Bronx.”

Even among those who did cast a ballot, there was deep skepticism.

When asked outside the Ramirez Apartments polling place whether he had voted, Jose Ortega, 55, said, “Unfortunately.”

“None of them convince me,” he said.

For mayor, he said he voted for Quinn, and while he voted Cardona for council, he said he hoped whoever won would bring more youth services to the neighborhood.

“… They have no center to go to. They have no place to go to,” he said.

For others, the significance of Election Day was less about the issues and more about their pocketbooks.

Along with a short stint of blaring vehicles and electioneering, the primary brought much-needed jobs to the area, even if just for a day.

Blocks away from Camaguey, campaigners eagerly waited in line for their pay at Cardona headquarters as polls closed.

One man said he was too busy working to cast his ballot in the same district.

Joe Green, 37, who was helping his mother serve food at Camaguey on Friday, said he made $100 for a half-day’s work electioneering and cast his vote for the man who put money in his pocket.

“I did work on the voting for John Cats-something,” he said. “I just did it for the pay; that’s why I voted for him,” he said. He did not vote for any other candidates on the ballot, he said.

A few interviewed in and around the restaurant Friday said they voted for Thompson and supported him staying in the race for a runoff. But Charlie Garcia, 71, having voted for “the white guy,” said Thompson should bow out. The former comptroller did just that on Monday morning.