Frontrunner Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio spent the last Thursday before the Tuesday primary campaigning uptown, speaking to Harlem voters who seemed receptive to the leading candidate’s message.
De Blasio, the public advocate, was joined by City Council District 9 candidate Vince Morgan on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. The two politicians were surrounded by cheering supporters and Harlemites excited or curious about the two candidates.
While de Blasio didn’t talk to the large group of reporters and TV cameramen following his every move, he warmly greeted commuters coming out of the subway station at the intersection and focused on the hordes of people passing by. The locals he talked to said they appreciated the campaign appearance in their neighborhood.
“I think it’s very important they’re reaching out because Harlem encompasses people of many different backgrounds, different faiths, cultures now,” Sandra Ellen Bell, a de Blasio supporter and Harlemite, said.
“I expected everyone to come to Harlem with just a few days left in the primary,” Rev. James Clemons, who was born and raised in Harlem but currently lives in Brooklyn, said.
He said he supports Morgan for council but is still undecided between de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor.
“They seem to understand issues that affect people that are middle class, middle income, and people of a lower socioeconomic background,” Bell said.
He said he was especially worried that Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion would gentrify the neighborhood.
“While I love education, you can’t push the people out of their homes,” he said. “Where else would we live?”
Bendu Konnes, a Harlem resident, said she was concerned about housing and gun control and believes de Blasio is the best choice.
“I’m very pleased if he become the leader,” she said. “I like him more and more. Better than Bloomberg.”
Bell said de Blasio is the perfect foil to Bloomberg.
“He’s a man that’s willing to reach out, and I think we need that after 12 years of having a man who’s been very oppressive and has had a history of not listening to the will of the people,” he said.