Ed Santos is first FilAm to aspire for NYC council seat

Son of working-class immigrants. The FilAm photo

Son of working-class immigrants. The FilAm photo

By Cristina DC Pastor

For the first time in the history of Filipino migration to New York, the son of a nanny is aspiring to run for a city council seat.

Twenty-seven-year-old Democrat Edward Santos is looking to represent District 8 of East Harlem-South Bronx in the city council. But first, he has to win the September primary against incumbent Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“I think I have a good chance,” Ed told The FilAm in an interview at the Philippine Center, where he would later introduce himself to an audience gathered for an immigration forum. He said District 8 is a new district, the product of a congressional remapping. Many of Mark-Viverito’s supporters were eliminated when the voting area was reconfigured last year, he said.

Ed, with publicist Jesse Hassinger, has started to make the rounds of Filipino gatherings to introduce himself as a dedicated public school teacher, as a son of an Upper East Side nanny, and as one who wants to reform New York’s public school system.

“When I was a baby, my mother was almost deported, but she pleaded with politicians, and they sponsored a private bill to stop her deportation,” he said. “There is now an Emily Santos bill.” The politicians who came to his mother’s defense were Michigan Senator Carl Levin and then-Senator from Delaware Joe Biden.

Ed grew up in Detroit, where he was born. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Statistics. In 2007, he came to New York to get his master’s in Teaching from Pace University, and to teach Math at East Harlem schools. His mother has been working in the city for many years when he arrived. His father, a waiter, remains in Detroit with his two siblings.

“I come from a working-class immigrant family,” he said. “Education is very important to me.”

District 8, with a population of about 200,000 – mostly African Americans and Latinos — has a 17 percent unemployment rate. Crime is also high in this district, he added. The Asians are clearly a minority, but with hospitals being opened in his district, Asian health workers are beginning to call East Harlem home.

“One in seven kids does not go to school,” he said.

But the area is changing, he said, carefully avoiding the use of the word “gentrification.” Top retailers, like Costco and Target and other businesses, are providing jobs to residents.

As of now, Ed needs to overcome two challenges: a perceived lack of experience and resources that cannot match the incumbent’s. He said being the treasurer of Community Board 11 gives him the experience and he has become aware of the needs of residents in District 8. As for resources, he said he has been able to raise about $15K in “low-dollar donations” so far.

Better schools, affordable housing and economic development are Ed’s core issues.

“I’d like to be known as someone who is rational, one who is focused on actual solutions not complaining and finger-pointing,” he said.

To follow Ed’s campaign, check out his website EdSantos2013.com .

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  1. M. wrote:

    Yes, indeed, it about high times the a Fil-Am is making a hopeful run for a seat in the New York City Council.

  2. […] a separate story, Cristina DC Pastor writes about one example of a second generation Filipino, hoping to gain a foothold in politics: Ed Santos, 27, the first […]

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