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October 20, 2009: Vol. 1, No. 11
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Democrat Vacca earns Republican line

Bronx Times-Reporter

13th Council District incumbent James Vacca is a donkelephant. At least for the purposes of the general election, Vacca is a donkey and an elephant, a lefty and a righty, a Democrat and a Republican.

The former Community Board 10 district manager and avowed Democrat has won the Republican line. Vacca had no serious opposition in the Democratic primary and will appear on the ballot as both the Democrat and the Republican candidate on November 3. His opposition is Conservative candidate Frank Della Valle. Vacca boasts more than 30 years as a public servant in the east Bronx and has never asked a constituent to state his or her party affiliation, he declared.

“Though I’m a Democrat, many Republicans in my district know me not as a partisan politician but as a community leader,” Vacca said.

The Bronx County Republican Committee approached the incumbent months ago. Vacca was CB10 district manager for 26 years.

“I thought it was very nice of them,” Vacca said. “[Republicans] told me, ‘Jimmy, we never thought to endorse anyone else.’”

Vacca credited the Republican endorsement to his record at City Hall, in particular his work on behalf of seniors and the City Island ladder company. Vacca chairs the City Council subcommittee on senior centers. He led protests in the spring and summer against a bid to eliminate the ladder company.

“These issues galvanized people across party lines,” Vacca said. “We stopped a plan to close 85 senior centers.”

Vacca also mentioned efforts on behalf of tenants, and crusades against parking tickets and tax hikes. He couched the Republican endorsement as a reflection of what his staff has accomplished since 2005.

Some Democrats will balk at his decision to accept Republican support but Vacca did well among Democrats and Republicans in 2005, even without the Republican line. He expects to garner more votes on November 3; as councilman, he has added support in Community Board 11. Vacca, who voted to extend term limits in 2008, seemed less than concerned about Della Valle.

“I think [Della Valle] gives people a choice,” he said. “I’m sure there are some people who don’t want to vote for me.”

Donkelephants are not unheard of in the east Bronx. Republican Assemblyman Guy Velella and Democrat Councilman Michael DeMarco both earned cross endorsements. Bronx Republicans endorsed no other Democrat for 2009.

Efforts to contact Della Valle via the Bronx County Republican Committee were unsuccessful, as phone calls were not returned.

14th Council District candidate Fernando Cabrera, 15th Council District candidate Joel Rivera, 16th Council District candidate Helen Diane Foster and 18th Council District candidate Annabel Palma – incumbent Democrats – are also endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Contact reporter Daniel Beekman by phone at (718) 742-3383 or email at dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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