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Blake fights residency status, receives endorsement of progressive-minded coalition

Stephon Johnson | 8/14/2014, 4:42 p.m.

Michael Blake, a candidate for New York’s 79th Assembly District seat, was stuck in a battle with other candidates in court to prove his residency. Blake’s opponents in the primary claimed that Blake didn’t meet the state constitution’s five-year residency requirement to run for state office.

At the end of July, lawyers representing one of those opponents, Marsha Michael, filed objections to his residency and petition signatures. A review of Blake’s residence revealed he lived in (and voted in) Washington, D.C., prior to 2013, when he registered to vote in the Bronx. Tax records show that he paid income taxes in the District of Columbia around that time as well.

However, the former campaign aide to Barack Obama has fought back against those claims, citing his tax records and voting records, which he believes are valid.

“I understand it’s sometimes part of the process,” Blake told the AmNews, discussing the court proceedings. “Folks are exercising their opportunity because of the momentum that we clearly are demonstrating. But we’re focused on the voters and communicating to them that we are here.

“We are very confident that we will prevail,” said Blake.

On Wednesday, a city court referee ruled in favor of Blake in his residency case. An official approval by the judge was expected to happen on Thursday.

But that’s not all the good news on the Michael Blake front. Yesterday, Blake received a major endorsement from the Progressive Power Coalition.

Standing near the 174th Street stop on the 2 line, Blake talked about the importance of this endorsement.

“The progressive movement in New York City has changed the national discussion about government and income inequality, leading to significant, positive change both here and around the country,” said Blake. “Because of their tireless work to challenge the powerful and give a voice to the voiceless, we no longer have to accept the erosion of the middle class, the defamation of the working class and the dismissive treatment of low-income citizens.”

Formed in 2013, the Progressive Power Coalition is an alliance of five of the largest community organizations in New York City and state: Citizen Action of New York, Community Voices Heard Power, Make the Road New York Action Fund, New York Communities for Change and VOCAL-NY Action Fund.

Blake also said that he was thankful for the support of those organizations individually and said that they are the type of people on his team that would help “change Albany for the better.”

Joseph Mpa, Community Voices Heard Power board member, believes that Blake will bring an opportunity for their voices to be heard.

“CVH Power is thrilled to support Michael Blake’s candidacy for the 79th District Assembly seat,” said Mpa in a statement. “He will bring about the type of meaningful change that the Bronx has been waiting for.”

“The Bronx needs principled leaders in Albany that reflect progressive values and have an unwavering commitment to economic and racial justice,” added Bobby Tolbert, VOCAL-NY Action Fund board member and Bronx resident, in a statement. “Michael Blake is a standout candidate with the energy and experience to bring much-needed change to the long undeserved 79th Assembly District in the Bronx. VOCAL-NY Action Fund proudly endorses his campaign and looks forward to working together to alleviate poverty and create more healthy and just communities in the Bronx and beyond.”

According to the Progressive Power Coalition, endorsements were based on responses to a questionnaires and interviews held by community leaders. Progressive Power Coalition officials said that candidates were asked to provide their position on issues like economic justice and jobs, education, health, housing, immigrant rights, public safety and policing. Each candidate was then evaluated on their knowledge of the issues and their vision for the district.