Rev. Billy, who is running for NYC mayor, was among the primary candidates who attended "Last Call" at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Harlem tonight.
It’s hard not to notice there’s an election primary in the city.
For the past week, Harlem has been bombarded with flyers, posters and the ol’ bullhorn speaker on the truck promoting a candidate (which, before I moved here, thought it was only something practiced in Latin America). So, as someone who wanted to be well informed about the candidates, I attended “The Last Call” Citywide Candidates Night” at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Harlem.
Everyone running in Uptown districts (Districts 7,8 and 9) were invited, as well as mayoral and public advocate candidates. I was really excited to hear all the candidates speak. But as is the case in small neighborhood meetings, with about 50 people present, not all of the candidates showed up.
For the mayoral race, Tony Avella and the ever-entertaining Rev. Billy Talen attended. For District 7 (Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood), Manuel Lantigua and Julius Tadjidin attended; District 9 (Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, parts of Upper West Side and parts of East Harlem), Landon Dias and Carlton Berkely; and for District 8 (Upper West Side and East Harlem), only Gwen Goodwin showed up.
It was actually a joke among the candidates there. “We’re have a political conversation with no incumbents present tonight,” Rev. Billy Talen said.
That comment made everyone chuckle, but it also was a sad reminder on how it’s always the underdogs and activists, who seem to be hard at work at trying to reach the movers and the shakers of Harlem. It’s also a shame that not many people attended (although the church hall was equipped to fit more than 200).
Nevertheless, it was a great night. There was a high-spirited energy in the room, and here are a few notable impressions from tonight’s attendees:
Landon Dias, Council Distirct 9 Democratic Candidate: Dias is a young, intelligent and ambitious man. I really hope to see him in future election if tomorrow doesn’t pan out for him. He has a masters in real-estate and believes that developments in Manhattan should be controlled more. He spoke about his own asthma problems and the need to help children Harlem, who suffer high rates of asthma. He also spoke about vocational training for young people in Harlem and the need for local government to be more transparent.
Tony Avella: He knows that his chances of winning the mayoral race are slim. But what I gathered from tonight, Avella is truly an activist at heart and believes that the current New York City education system needs to be decentralized. In other words, teachers shouldn’t only teach standardized tests, they should be teaching the subjects and comprehensive material they are trained to teach.
Rev. Billy Talen: This man makes me smile, pure and simple. Hearing him speak made me think, “Thank you God for putting crazies on this earth. They make the world so much more interesting.” In case you haven’t heard of Rev. Billy, he’s the guy who goes to chain stores with a large choir and preaches the gospel of citizenship, not consumerism. I hope he’s able to perform an exorcism at the East River Plaza when it does open.
Oh, and it case you were wondering where Robert Rodriguez, Council District 8 candidate, was tonight, he was having a Campaign Eve event at Ricardo’s, two blocks away from my house. The event included free drinks, which is why my partner and neighbors decided to attend that instead of the “Last Call” event.
Yes, candidates,yes. Sadly, free drinks really draw in crowds.