Former Chief of Staff to Mark Gjonaj Formally Announces Assembly Run

Originally on Norwood News

Nathalia Fernandez, a the former chief of staff to former Norwood Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, has officially announced she’s running for her old boss’s seat in a special election slated for April 24.

“I really take my credit to my experience working in the Assembly District,” Fernandez, a Democrat, said in a phone interview with the Norwood News shortly after her campaign staff released a statement announcing her run.

Fernandez’s start in politics began in 2012, when she began working on Gjonaj’s campaign for Assembly. In early 2017, Fernandez took a job serving as the Bronx Regional Representative for Governor Andrew Cuomo, a job she’s since resigned from recently. Her intent to run bars her from taking on a state appointed role.

The 80th Assembly District was left vacant after Gjonaj went off to win the General Election for the 13th Council District. The 80th Assembly District runs east to west, covering the Bronx neighborhoods of Morris Park, Allerton, Pelham Parkway, and Norwood. Fernandez had maintained a presence in Norwood, often overlooked in favor of the district’s east side.

It’s unclear whether Fernandez will receive support from the Bronx Democratic County Committee. Her nomination could repair BDCC’s perception that it only backs men running for office. At the moment, there are only three Bronx legislators on the federal, state, and city level, who are women. At the moment, interest for the 80th Assembly seat has been linked exclusively to women. They include Sheila Sanchez, a community activist in Norwood, and Lorraine-Cortez Vazquez, a veteran political operative around the Bronx.

“I have Mark behind me and I’m working towards solidifying everyone else,” Fernandez said.

Under state rules, BDCC, as the dominant party in power, decides who will finish out a legislator’s vacant term. They will vote for who will finish out the term on April 24.

The candidate who wins will likely want to extend their time as a legislator for the Assembly seat and run in the September primary.

Tony Reyes