By Dan Rivoli
A week after Adriano Espaillat won his primary election for State Senate, he held a meeting with his former opponents to hear their ideas for the district.
Espaillat, an Assembly member from Washington Heights, held a breakfast meeting at Dyckman Express Restaurant Sept. 23 with candidates Mark Levine, Anna Lewis and Miosotis Muñoz.
The group discussed their priorities and ideas for improving the diverse district. Represented for more than a decade by Eric Schneiderman, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, the State Senate seat covers parts of the Upper West Side, all of northern Manhattan and Riverdale in the Bronx.
“We had a very lively senatorial race,” said Espaillat, who took 51 percent of the vote in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
Lewis offered her endorsement of Espaillat, which prompted Levine to say that he considered it “universal” among Espaillat’s past rivals.
“One thing about the campaign is that everyone agreed on the main issues,” Levine said. “We all care about the district and the community.”
During the campaign, each candidate tried to highlight their background to separate themselves from the pack, as each ran as progressive Democrats. Levine, who came in second, touted the credit union he founded in the area to help small businesses; Anna Lewis, the only Upper West Side resident in the campaign, emphasized her background as a lawyer who helped draft state laws; and Munoz focused on special education and senior services.
“I know their strengths,” Espaillat said. “I hope to talk to them for not just ideas but real-life solutions to problems.”
Lewis suggested that Espaillat tackle the spate of empty storefronts cropping up where small businesses once operated in the Upper West Side. She also proposed increasing the “dismal” Medicaid reimbursement rates for independently-owned pharmacies and studying ways to keep commercial rents low.
Espaillat proposed creating a “one-stop center” for small businesses that will assist with licensing issues and provide an attorney to help with leases.
After his primary victory, Espaillat only has nominal opposition in November’s general election from Green Party candidate Ann Roos.
Epaillat said his priority in the Senate is to pass pro-tenant legislation that the chamber has bottled up for years, such as repealing vacancy decontrol—the point at which a newly vacant unit is taken out of the rent regulation system and converted to market rate housing
“The conditions are there for it to be taken seriously,” Espaillat said.
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