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Farias wins Democratic primary in the 18th District
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, J BTR ULY 23-29, 2021 15
BY JASON COHEN
In 2017, 27-year-old Amanda Farias
tried to topple popular career politician
Ruben Diaz Sr. for a seat on the
City Council in the 18th District. Although
she lost that primary race,
Farias wasn’t ready to quit.
In 2021, the chips fell in her favor.
Diaz Sr. declined to run and Farias
seized on the opportunity. Even
though Diaz Sr., and his son, Borough
President Ruben Diaz Jr. backed Community
Board 9 District Manager
William Rivera in an eight-person
Democratic primary, it was Farias —
by less than a 1% margin — who was
victorious on June 22.
As the Democratic nominee, Farias
will now face Republican Lamont
Paul in November.
The 18th District is based on
the eastern shoreline of theSouth
Hill,Soundview, Clason Point and
“It feels good to beat the establishment,”
she told the Bronx Times. “I
think a lot of people forget that just because
Diaz Sr. wasn’t seeking reelection
that this wasn’t an easy race.”
Farias, 32, was born and raised in
Soundview by a single mom, Tabitha
Crespo. Surrounded by her grandparents,
Francisca and Duilio Ortiz,
cousins, aunts and uncles, family has
always been a huge part of her life.
While Crespo worked long hours
as a medical secretary, she always put
her daughter fi rst.
“I think my mom was really good
at managing diffi culty,” Farias said.
“I think I never realized the times we
In an area that was known for
crime and violence, Farias always
made sure to stay out of trouble. She
did that by playing basketball, taking
up dance and was often found at the
Kipps Bay Boys and Girls Club at 1930
Additionally, she went to private
school at Holy Cross in Soundview
and Preston High School in Throggs
Neck. It was then, after her sophomore
year, that she truly understood
how much her mom had on her plate.
That summer Preston raised the
tuition and Crespo told Farias she
could no longer afford it. Farias recognized
that meant she would be going
to public school in the fall, but it
seems God had other plans, she siad.
One day she and her mom were
getting their nails done when they
ran into her eighth grade after-school
coordinator, who asked Farias if she
was still playing basketball and doing
well in school. They broke the
news to her about their fi nancial situation
and out of the blue, she promptly
leaves the salon and returns with half
the cash required for tuition.
“That moment was a defi ning moment
for me,” Farias told the Bronx
She was shocked, but thanked the
coordinator since itallowed her to
stay at Preston and continue her education.
With aspirations of one day
working at the United Nations, she
fi nished high school and then left the
borough to attend St. John’s University
While it was a two-hour schlep by
bus, Farias liked college, especially
a semester abroad she spent in Paris.
She fell in love with the city, food, people
and even learned French.
“I always enjoy immersing myself
in other cultures,” she said.
She graduated with a degree in international
relations and began applying
to hundreds of jobs. Suddenly,
an opportunity fell in her lap that she
couldn’t pass up.
Farias was asked to work on the
reelection campaign for President
Barack Obama in Colorado. She was
out west for eight months and enjoyed
the experience. Following that, she
was offered a job to work in Colorado,
but Farias wanted to make a difference
She returned home and landed a
job with then-Councilwoman Elizabeth
Crowley, a Queens Democrat.
Farias was the youngest on the staff
and the only Latina, but worked her
way up from constituent services to
running the participatory budgeting
and the Women’s Caucus.
Being on the ground and hearing
the concerns of people was an experience
she will never forget, she said.
More importantly, she learned that
having an active council member can
make a difference in people’s lives.
“I was really able to get my footing
in understanding how local government
worked,” she said. “I had a lot of
opportunities to grow there.
“Elizabeth is defi nitely a go-getter.
If she has an idea and wants to see it
come to fruition, she will work to get
it done and I think I always have that
attitude as well.”
Farias was with Crowley for fi ve
years and made her presence felt; it
was Crowley who fi rst asked her to
consider running for elected offi ce.
But at just 26, Farias didn’t think politics
was for her.
“After I said, ‘no’ a couple of times,
a few other council members told me
to do it,” she said.
So she sought advice from family
and friends, and in 2017 ran for City
According to Farias, her family
was apolitical. The only thing
she remembered was going with
her grandma to pull the lever at the
polls.“Working in a City Council offi
ce made me realize people need to
know who to hold accountable,” she
Farias knew defeating Diaz Sr. —
he was running for the seat that he
previously held — was a long shot,
but she didn’t care. The millennial
got used to rejection and people telling
her she was too young to run for
She lost, but it did not deter her. Instead,
she worked hard the past four
years immersing herself in the district.
“I think people view elected offi -
cials as a 50-plus, male-dominated industry,”
she said. “I think a lot of people
desire new young leadership.”
During this year’scampaign, Farias
learned that many people in the
district are concerned about the lack
of affordable housing and transit options,
and the need for better schools.
Farias pointed out that there is not
a free shuttle to the NYC Ferry in
Soundview.Furthermore, she said
that all schools must have after school
programs and provide children with
the digital tools needed to succeed.
“Each of my neighborhoods needs
to be looked at in a different way,” she
For example, the homes in Soundview
that are near the water have
high fl ood insurance rates, so the city
must reexamine ways to elevate them
higher and protect them.
As she looks ahead to the general
election in November, she said it still
feels surreal to have a win under her
belt and a real chance to be a NYC
“It’s defi nitely been a long journey
to get here,” she said. “I feel the most
ready to do this job than I’ve felt at
any job I’ve ever had.”
Amanda Farias wins the Democratic primary in the 18th District.
Photo courtesy Amanda Farias
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