Vote 2017: 8th District City Council seat

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THE BRONX -

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will no longer represent the 8th District come November, and four Democrats will face off on Sept. 12 to become the party's nominee.

The 8th District of New York City includes El Barrio and East Harlem in Manhattan, as well as the Bronx's Mott Haven, Highbridge, Concourse, Longwood and Port Morris neighborhoods.

The first candidate is one who knows Mark-Viverito very well -- Diana Ayala, who is currently the council speaker's deputy chief of staff. She tells News 12 that housing would be one of the important issues she'd work on as a council member by demanding that developers provide more affordable units while supporting more NYCHA upgrades.

Ayala also highlights education as another pillar of her campaign, saying that she will fight for fair funding from the state and work to reduce overcrowding in city schools.

Lastly, Ayala wants to help senior citizens and promises to stop any funding cuts to senior centers, in addition to expanding health care and transportation services for the elderly.

Entrepreneur Tamika Mapp is also vying for the Democratic nomination in the 8th District, also saying that housing is a big issue for her. Mapp wants to preserve rent-stabilized apartments while creating more affordable units.

Wage equality is also a major focus of her campaign, as she plans to push for a $20-an-hour minimum wage in the city.

Another area Mapp wants to highlight is immigration and the need to reform the current policies. She says her plan is to find an affordable pathway to citizenship.

The next candidate is no stranger to politics: Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez, who's been serving in the state Legislature since 2011. If elected to City Council, Rodriguez says housing is also something on which he wants to focus, specifically making sure that NYCHA buildings get the repairs they've been promised.

Improving transportation in the 8th District is also another big item on Rodriguez's agenda. He pledges to be an advocate for better subway service, working to make it more reliable and affordable.

Meanwhile, the health of his would-be constituents is another priority for Rodriguez. He wants to add resources for those who suffer from asthma, obesity and diabetes. He also wants to push for more health care facilities in the district.

The fourth and final candidate is former state Assemblyman Israel Martinez. News 12 called his campaign phone number but didn't hear back. However, a Facebook page that appears to belong to Martinez has a post in which he says he would fight for free transportation for seniors, if elected to City Council.

The winner of the Sept. 12 primary will go on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for the 8th District City Council seat in the Nov. 7 general election.

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