The most contested primary race in New York City this year is in the 15th Congressional district in the Bronx, where 12 people are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace the retiring Rep. José Serrano. If submitted, City Limits will publish one op-ed supporting each candidate.
I endorse Julio Pabòn for Congress in NY-15 because he has lived in the Bronx for over 60 years and not once has he ever sold out. He might be running for Congress but he is not a politician. You can hear the difference when he speaks from the heart and they read from a script. The Bronx doesn’t need a political savior to go to Congress and try to work their way up. We need Julio because he can think outside the box and leverage a political office to organize a community from the bottom up. Julio’s campaign was never about raising money and when it comes to winning we’re the underdog of underdogs.
We weren’t considered for some debates because our fundraising doesn’t compare to the tens of thousands and even a million some candidates have raised to buy this election. Giving your voice power is the easiest way to explain what Julio does. We need active members of our community who work to spread more good than bad. The image people have of the Bronx doesn’t reflect the truth people live with everyday. Every person has their role in history.
A vote for Julio Pabòn means more than choosing someone who has lived in the Bronx for 64 years. It means more than voting for your next congressman because you will be voting for the first revolutionary into office. Julio was born in 1952 in the South side of Puerto Rico. When he met brothers from the South he told them it looks like the north from where he’s from. Julio has created history more times than I have yet to see or hear. Everyday I learn another piece of the puzzle like that he grew up moving from couch to couch, avoiding gun shots, drugs, fire and violence. Julio was a Young Lord in training and protested for the first time when a cop shot his friend in the back. He raised three kids in the Bronx, started three small businesses, one of them the first Guest House in the Bronx, wrote a book about how he got Fidel Castro to come to the South Bronx and also appeared on Vice for smoking marijuana since he was 16.
Julio has a world of experience but still takes the time to hear out kids with dreams and teens with ideas. I’m 24 and have managed to run the social media campaign for a revolution. Protestors have gotten more done for criminal reform in three weeks than 30 years of political debates in Congress. If you don’t think we need something new in our government than you need to get your head out of the sand. You don’t have to believe the words in front of you because you can do the research yourself. We have ideas that can help the Bronx save itself at www.JulioPabon.com. In our eyes we’ve already won because of the connections we’ve built with organizers, small businesses and people ignored by the world.
What will healthcare do to solve the food desert in our streets? How is the green new deal or marijuana legalization going to repair the hundreds of years that held us back? Which laws will stop White supremacists from killing minorities when the police already do it themselves? Can I vote if I’m a felon? Walk the streets of the South Bronx and you might hear these questions. There are some solutions that won’t come from legislation alone. For a complete and total change; you need a revolution. Julio doesn’t have the resources to reach every person in the Bronx and we rely heavily on word of mouth and social media. When we tell people they can have a choice in change, we also tell them they have the responsibility to tell others. Your voice is the strongest power you have. We hope you use it well.
Ramon Emilio Vasquez is the Pabon campaign’s social media director.