Categorized | Politics

The Bronx’s Own Socialist Calls it a Day

by Shefali Kulkarni

Frances Villar at the 56th district poll in P.S. 85

Frances Villar at the 56th district poll in P.S. 85

With two children at home sick with pink eye, a broken cell phone and the last of her $19,000 budget spent on Spanish and English fliers, the candidate on the ticket for the Party for Socialism and Liberation campaigned as hard as she could until the polls closed on election night.

Frances Villar, the Lehman College student and single mom, won only 1 percent of the vote in the mayoral race on  Nov. 3rd. She had no expectations the day would end otherwise.

Still, the 26-year-old had no regrets. The Bronx’s own candidate for mayor giggled when she saw her name on the ballot. “I think it’s funny that I’m on line F and my name is Frances,” she said as she left the voting booth at P.S. 85 in Fordham. “But it’s a real honor, it feels great.”

Villar, the youngest candidate and the only woman on the ballot, spent election day passing out fliers at polling centers in the Bronx, Washington Heights and Harlem as a team of nearly 200 volunteers did the same across the city.

Why did she run? Villar said her party selected her last June after she put together a platform focused on the housing crisis. She found out she was running for mayor via text message. “I remember getting the text during class,” she said. “It just said, ‘Congrats Comrade.”

Villar pledged to present herself as a true grassroots candidate. “I’m just like everyone else,” she said. “The more I thought about all the reasons why I shouldn’t run, the more I realized that they humanized me.”

As president and founder of a tenants association on Valentine Avenue in the Bronx, Villar vowed to remove harassing police officers from apartment hallways, and to prevent evictions. “We have enough issues to deal with in this city, the last thing we need is to kick people out onto the street,” she said in a debate last week.

Some voters responded to her message.  “I like seeing people in the Bronx sticking together,” said Julian Rodriguez, 23, who stopped to read a flier. “I think we really need to work on keeping the Bronx un-gentrified. I don’t think the rest of the borough gets it.”

After Nov. 3, Villar said she plans to finish her degree at Lehman College in education and become a high school teacher. She is also eager to see her party move forward, past the mayoral election.

“Even if I don’t get elected, nothing is going to change. It’s going to take the people to really make change in this country,” she said.

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