On Monday night,  BronxTalk host Gary Axlebank again did Bronx voters a public service by bringing together candidates for state assembly in the 79th AD which spans parts of Melrose, Morrisania, Crotona, Claremont and Concourse Village.


Blake, Rodriguez, Ricks

Frontrunner (and Mister Moneybags) Michael A. Blake, a former Obama administration aide, Raul Rodriguez, a school aide, and Frederick Ricks, an entertainer and entrepreneur appeared. Mr. Axlebank says that a fourth candidate, businessman George Alvarez was in the studio but bolted shortly before the show began.


Marsha D Michael

Bronx Democratic organization favorite, Marsha D. Michael, a court attorney, and Lanita “Princess” Jones were “no shows.”

The resulting forum was informative and substantial as Axlebank asked the three candidates to address concerns about Blake’s residency and connection to his birthplace, “Big Box” stores, local economic development, the absence of banking services in Morrisania (10456), gun violence, and the Common Core curriculum. Graciously, neither Rodriguez nor Ricks chose to discuss Blake’s residency. Bravo, gentlemen!

Michael Blake was the best of the candidates. But Mr. Rodriguez held his own in terms of depth of knowledge, thoughtfulness and articulateness. For an entertainer, Mr. Ricks seemed uncomfortable and unsure in his responses. 

Like many voters, I’d like to have seen how Ms. Michael as the only woman (Ms. Jones simply doesn’t belong in the contest) would have presented her bona fides and issues platform. Alvarez, who is running a covert Latino-empowerment campaign, has questionable fundraising support.

But thanks to Mr. Axlebank and his BronxTalk producers, Bronx voters have a sense of those candidates who put themselves in the crucible of a televised forum.

As the most polished candidate, Mr. Blake looked into the camera and made a portion of his closing statement in Spanish. 

In case you missed the forum, click on the link here.

Don’t forget to vote Primary Day, September 9. Polls open at 6AM and close at 9PM. Find your poll site here.

Michael Benjamin is a columnist and blogger as well as a former state legislator who represented the 79 AD, 2003-2010.

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