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Raquel Batista is running for City Council

 

Term-limited councilman wants to pass seat to chief of staff. Batista decries cronyism.City Council candidate Raquel Batista is six months pregnant — and looking to take on the big boys of Bronx politics.

City Council candidate Raquel Batista is six months pregnant — and looking to take on the big boys of Bronx politics.

Raquel Batista knows what’s wrong with the Bronx — politics as usual.

The 38-year-old attorney says her election to succeed term-limited Councilman Joel Rivera will usher in an entirely different era of Bronx politics, where power is currently handed down from one connected pol to the next, from generation to generation.

Rivera, for example, succeeded his father in the 15th District. His chief of staff, Albert Alvarez, is running. And so is Ritchie Torres, is the hand-picked protege of neighboring Councilman James Vacca.

“This could really be an opportunity for the voters to take a closer look at who’s representing them,” said the CUNY Law grad Batista. “As we’ve seen in the past there is cronyism, nepotism, and the issue of corruption.”

Batista, who is six months pregnant, is confident that her status as an outsider and an immigration advocate will resonate with Bronx voters tired of dealing with Democratic dynasties.

“This area is undergoing a political turmoil and this can actually be a blessing in disguise,” she said, referring to the recent corruption scandals involving Assemblymen Eric Stevenson, who was arrested, and Nelson Castro, who resigned.

“An insider is anyone who is either related to an elected official or works for an elected official.”

“I’m not doing anything that different,” the mother-to-be said when asked about her August due date, which falls only weeks before the Democratic primary.

“Working women all over the state deal with being pregnant. That’s why paid sick leave and health care reform are such important topics.”

Batista, born and raised in the Bronx, spent much of the last decade as executive director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

The 15th District covers three square miles of heavily populated residential neighborhoods including Bathgate, Belmont, West Farms, and Van Nest. Batista believes the growing immigrant communities within those neighborhoods will be some of the first to benefit from the term-limit rules that will bring a number of fresh faces to the City Council.

And she’s not entirely critical of Rivera, who “did some positive things.”

“But after 12 years it is time for new blood,” she added. “That’s why I think that term limits are such a great idea. It really helps to increase the level of civic participation in the community.

“I am coming from outside the political arena,” Batista added.

“But I still have a background working with the community and with the people of the Bronx.”

The mom-to-be hopes to be changing more than diapers after the September primary.

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