Fernando Cabrera is not known for pulling punches.
When criticizing opponents, especially during an election, the two-term councilman has not shied away at all from calling someone out for failing for do enough for constituents.
Cabrera is sticking to what works for him going into Sept. 12 when he goes head-to-head-to-head with two primary challengers who want to deprive him of a third and final term representing the city council’s 14th District. However, most of that criticism seems to be directed at just one opponent — Randy Abreu.
He had some choice words for the 28-year-old and former Obama energy department appointee, who has talked a lot during the campaign being the only candidate in race who was “born and raised in the district,” as opposed to a third challenger for the seat, Felix Perdomo, who was born in the Dominican Republic.
But being born in the Bronx doesn’t matter, according to Cabrera, if one doesn’t have the professional and political connections to be an effective member of city council.
“This is what happens when people coming from out of town, and they haven’t been here in 10 years,” Cabrera said about Abreu, who left the Bronx for college, law school, and to work in Washington after he finished high school.
“He has no track record in our community.”
Instead, Cabrera has a simple message for voters leading into Tuesday: Vote on his city council, which he says has spurred unprecedented growth in his district.
“My track record shows that I have helped those in the most economic and dire need,” Cabrera said.
“I don’t know any other councilman or district that has ever had this kind of rate of tackling this issue of unemployment.”
A track record Cabrera hopes to keep building on by becoming the senior-most member of the Bronx delegation to city council. That, he says, puts him in a position to pass more laws and bring more capital funding to his district, which includes parts of the South Bronx and Kingsbridge.
One of his key policy issues going into the election is ensuring his vision for the Jerome Avenue rezoning project, which plans to add 4,000 affordable and low-income housing units to the district.
“I have been working in this project, and I was the only one of these candidates that was there from the beginning to the end of the” process, Cabrera said. “We want to make sure we have the resources to support 4,000 new families.”
Cabrera has worked with city hall to secure funding for locals schools, roads and businesses to help welcome a growing population. He’s willing to vote those projects down if he feels Mayor Bill de Blasio — a fellow Democrat — fails to follow through on his promises.
“We want to make sure that this is done with precision,” Cabrera said. “I believe we are going to get it over the finish line.”
Going into the next council session, Cabrera said he will work with Councilman Andrew Cohen on a bill to create a park construction authority, which — like the one that already exists for schools — would monitor contractors who’ve been hired to build and renovate parks to ensure projects are done on time.
“It takes years for projects to come to fruition when it comes to parks,” Cabrera said. “There has to be a better way, and we can’t have contractors taking advantage of contracting problems in the city. It brings a level of confidence in the community, that when we say we are going to do something, we not only do it, but we do it in the most effective way possible.”
But what Cabrera wouldn’t discuss are his own political plans if he is elected a third time. Since joining city council, Cabrera has tried twice — unsuccessfully — to topple state Sen. Gustavo Rivera. Whether he’ll run for a third time in 2018 or after he’s term-limited out of the council is something Cabrera is keeping close to the vest.
“I’m just going to follow the river wherever it takes me,” Cabrera said. “My focus right now is really to bring the district to a better place. Eventually someone is going to take my seat, so we are going to prepare for that as well.”
CORRECTION: Councilman Fernando Cabrera was born in the Bronx. A story in the Sept. 7 edition stated otherwise.