Gustavo Rivera faces Democratic challenger
By Adam Wisnieski
Manny Tavarez has launched a campaign to unseat state Sen. Gustavo Rivera in state Senate District 33.
District 33 was pushed south during redistricting this year. It no longer includes any parts of Riverdale or Van Cortlandt Village but still encompasses approximately half of Kingsbridge and much of Kingsbridge Heights.
The Democratic primary will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13.
Mr. Tavarez, a 33-year-old Democrat and baseball agent who, according to his campaign website, worked for former District Leader Hector Ramirez, will challenge Mr. Rivera, who is wrapping up his first term in office.
Mr. Rivera gained recognition statewide and had the support of most public officials when he challenged and successfully dethroned the now-convicted state Sen. Pedro Espada in 2010.
Since taking office, his two most crowning achievements have been helping to create the Bronx CAN Health Initiative and spearheading legislation to allow charitable organizations post bail.
When asked for a comment about the race, Mr. Rivera sent a statement.
“I am 100% focused on serving my community,” it said.
The petitions required to get candidates onto the ballot are due Thursday, July 12. But mudslinging between the two candidates has already begun. Mr. Tavarez took a shot at Mr. Rivera, lumping him together with the convicted Mr. Espada and former state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez on his website.
“With the last two State Senators indicted on corruption charges and the current Senator who has done nothing significant for our community, it is time we clean up politics and reestablish confidence in our elected officials,” the site reads.
When asked for a comment, Mr. Tavarez blasted Mr. Rivera again.
“I think he’s been absent in the community, he’s been non-existent,” he said.
The policy differences that will likely cause the most friction between the two Democrats is abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Tavarez is pro-life and anti-gay marriage, which he attributes to his Christian faith. Mr. Rivera is the founding member of the Bipartisan Pro Choice Legislative Caucus in the Senate and was a vocal gay rights advocate who voted for same-sex marriage.