Anisah Assim, FCRH ’16, let her colors show when describing her room on the 13th floor of Walsh.
“It’s the best view. I look right at the skyline, and if you look the other way, you can see the Armory,” she said. “It’s the perfect room!”
Yes, Assim is that excited about seeing the Kingsbridge Armory. She brought that same passion this summer to Michael Blake’s campaign for state Assemblyman in the 79th district in the Southwest Bronx.
“It’s a really interesting area, because if you look at the train map, it swerves right around it, so it’s one of the more forgotten parts of the Bronx,” she said of the area, which spans across the Morrisania, Claremont and Tremont neighborhoods that lie south of Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus.
Assim joined Blake’s campaign after he joined Fordham’s College Democrats in the spring. She was especially inspired after hearing about the extremely low turnout rate for voters in Blake’s district.
“It’s absurd,” she said. “There’s just nobody who votes there. And because of that, they have an extreme underrepresentation of their rights.”
Assim said that a lack of votes has led to corruption — in Tuesday’s election, Blake won the seat formerly held by Eric Stevenson, who is now serving three years in prison for bribery and other charges.
Assim reflected happily on her time with Blake this summer, saying, “I got to work in the Bronx and work on making it a better place and stuff like that, reaching out to people.”
This semester, the United Student Government (USG) senator and political science major is bringing her Bronx passion to a bigger office as an intern for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
Schumer is notorious for loving his home borough of Brooklyn, but Assim does not hide her Bronx residency in the office. She is often asked by coworkers what is going on in the Bronx, “I get excited about stuff like transportation in the Bronx and stuff like that. It definitely comes up in conversation.”
Fellow USG Senator Thomas Samuelson, FCRH ’16, did not have to compete with any Brooklyn love working on John Cahill’s campaign for Attorney General—Cahill grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Fordham.
But, Samuelson had to deal with a different set of struggles working on a Republican’s campaign.
“The Bronx is overwhelmingly Democrat, but you gotta realize when you look at parties, not everything is cut and dry,” he said.
Over the past four months, Samuelson spent much of his time attempting to convince democrats around New York to vote for Cahill.
The campaign proved unsuccessful as Cahill lost to the incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman, but Samuelson said he still gained plenty from the internship experience.
“You learn a lot about different demographics, different regions… it helped me learn a lot about New York. Now I know the names of almost all the counties!”
Samuelson even got his work referenced in a New York Times article about Cahill’s campaign strategies.
He was put in charge of choosing the events where Cahill would campaign — a schedule the New York Times mentioned in an October profile of the candidate.
But, Samuelson was bewildered by the write-up.
“They made it seem like the campaign was really strategic on that,” he explained. “I don’t think they realize, really what it was is some intern thought, ‘oh this sounds like fun!’”
Jeff Coltin is the Bronx Correspondent for The Fordham Ram.