You know Michael Bennet ’87. You know John Hickenlooper ’74. But do you know Adam Bermudez? Unlike Bennet and Hickenlooper, Bermudez did not graduate in the ’70s or ’80s and become a leading political figure
close to Wesleyan’s Colorado campus. Rather, Bermudez is a 2007 alumnus, running for State Assemblyman in New York’s 80th district, in the Bronx. The district includes the neighborhoods of Van Nest, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Bay, Allerton, Norwood, and Van Cortlandt Village in the Bronx.
Bermudez goes up against incumbent Naomi Rivera, who has held the seat since 2005. In addition to having raised $101,148, Rivera also benefits from an assemblyman father who formerly led the Bronx Democrats and a councilman brother. (Nepotism runs deep in Bronx politics. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who endorsed Rivera, is the son of State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.) The tough challenge may be, however, competing against Mark Gjonaj, the owner of a real estate company and Bronx commissioner on the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) who has the endorsement of Diaz Sr. Gjonaj has raised $66,670 more than incumbent Rivera. A July 18th article from DNAinfo.com described our alum as having “empty coffers.” Though he acknowledges his “nobody” status to, there’s the added fact that the Bronx Democratic County Committee has filed objections to his petition.
Why run, then?
“I’m running, in some ways, to shed light on the process,” said Bermudez, a self-described political nerd. But, he quickly added, “That’s not to say that I’m not looking to win.”
Bermudez’s résumé runs political: He left the UPenn graduate teaching program to help out with 2008 Obama campaign in Ohio, but ended up becoming a journalist for The Bronx Times Reporter. He’s worked for Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, the Bill Thompson for Mayor campaign, the Suzi Oppenheimer for State Senate campaign, and the Rori Lancman for Congress campaign. He told DNAinfo that the issues he cares about include education reform, youth concerns, and unemployment. They also write that he describes himself as “sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
The Bronx Times jested about one of their own running for office, calling him a “wannabe”:
Add political neophyte Adam Bermudez’ name to perennial candidate Irene Rukaj’s, filing nominating petitions for absentee Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera’s seat.
In the interest of fair and balanced, Adam’s a former reporter at the Times Reporter. Seems like a decent kid. Why he’d want to cross over to the Dark Side we have no idea….
At Wesleyan, Bermudez majored in Sociology and African-American Studies, writing a senior essay on race and gender in picture books. In addition to serving as president of the Woodrow Wilson Debate Society, he also participated in the Oddfellow’s Playhouse Troupes Program and worked at WEShop.
No word yet on whether Wesleyan students have begun organizing a write-in campaign for Giant Joint.