2021 Elections: Who’s running for City Council in the 8th District

city council d 8
Diana Ayala (l) and Tamika Mapp (r) are on the primary ballot for City Council District 8.
Left: photo via NYC.gov, Right: Photo via Twitter

The 8th District of City Council represents neighborhoods in two boroughs, covering East Harlem (El Barrio) in Manhattan as well as Mott Haven, Highbridge, Concourse, Longwood, Randall’s Island and Port Morris in the Bronx. In 2017, Diana Ayala, a Democrat, won the seat following Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was term-limited.

The primary for the District 8 seat is set for June 22, with the general election deciding the fate of the district on Nov. 2. 

According to the latest filings from the Campaign Finance Board, two people are on the ballot for City Council’s 8th District primary: incumbent Diana Ayala, and challenger Democrat Tamika Mapp. amNY asked them a few questions to help voters get to know them better:

Diana Ayala

amNY: Why are you seeking re-election for City Council?

Diana Ayala: I am seeking re-election for City Council because I have been a dedicated, tireless fighter for our community as we seek to recover from the pandemic. We are making strides fighting against the opioid crisis and bringing awareness to mental health, and there are many projects we have started that need to be completed.

amNY: Tell us about yourself and your relationship with the district.

DA: I have had the distinct pleasure of living, working and representing this district for the last 24 years. I lived both in the Bronx and in East Harlem. I started by working as a Senior Center Director in East Harlem for many years. Prior to serving in the City Council, I worked for the former Speaker of City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, as the Constituent Services Director and then Deputy Chief of Staff. I believe that my prior experiences help me to serve and deliver for my neighbors, as I have had similar experiences to the people I represent every day.

amNY: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

DA: There are many challenges in my district. We are currently focusing on getting through the pandemic, preserving our small businesses, and making sure that there are no mass evictions. We have been focused on finding ways to bring in resources to help keep businesses open and keep people in their homes. Another long-term issue is combating gun violence by funding workforce programs and providing mental health access for our youth.

amNY: What endorsements do you have?

DA: I have been endorsed by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Congressman Ritchie Torres, and Senator Brian Benjamin. I have also been endorsed by the Central Labor Council, UFT, CWA, 32BJ SEIU, SEIU 1199, DC 37, and Tenants Pac.


Tamika Mapp

amNY: Why are you running for City Council?

Tamika Mapp: It’s getting hard to live in our neighborhood. I’ve overcome tough challenges my whole life. I was abused as a child, and I had my son at 14 years old, I endured endless custody battles with my daughter’s father, I have been out of work and homeless. I never let myself be a statistic, and I never let hardship hold me back. I am running to represent you in East Harlem and the Bronx so that our children’s schools can get the proper funding they deserve, we can take community-based jails out of our neighborhood, reduce opioid treatment centers in our neighborhood, everyone can live somewhere safe and affordable regardless of their income, people who have paid their debt to society can have a place in the community to aide their re-entry, people who work can be paid a living wage. 

amNY: Tell us about yourself and your relationship with the district.

TM: I’m the founder and CEO of East Harlem Insurance Brokerage and Tax Service, and am raising my family here in East Harlem. I served our country in the U.S. Army, then came home and earned her college degree. I currently serve as Democratic State Committeewoman and County Committee Woman and helped to pass “Raise the Age” to keep our children out of Rikers. I started Progressives Educating New Yorkers to help people coming out of the criminal justice system gain the skills they need to succeed in the insurance industry and workplace and also help to prepare our young women to succeed at any challenge they face. As a small business mentor for Workshop in Business Opportunities, Tamika helps small businesses in our community become more profitable.

amNY: What is your political experience?

TM: In 2020, I was elected for State Committeewoman in the 68th AD.

amNY: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

TM: I will work with the Department of Sanitation to ensure our community trash is picked up and host weekly cleanups with my office and work with the Mayor to ensure we don’t have Westchester Area Median Income in our HPD numbers when coming up with income guidelines and get 100% community preference when developers are using public land or working with HPD. I want to create a 311 division that takes care of mental health emergencies, dispatch mental health counselors when there is a crisis and ensure those who are incarcerated have access to mental health services and continue those mental health services when they get out. I will work with the new mayor to take community-based jails out of neighborhoods and to fund community-based organizations with that money to provide our children and adults with the services they need.

amNY: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

TM: I will create First Fridays, where the community can come hear updates and ask me questions; hold monthly children programs so our children can understand the political process; attend Community Board Meetings, so I can help solve some immediate answers; and ensure my staff doesn’t change and if it does; alert the community so they know who they can reach.

Note: Some responses have been edited for brevity, clarity, and style consistency.