Carlina Rivera, a progressive Lower East Side City Council member first elected in 2017, announced Wednesday that she’ll be running for Congress, vying in the newly redrawn 10th District spanning lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

She’s joining a crowded field that already includes Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester/Rockland), former Mayor Bill de Blasio and downtown Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. Axios reported Tuesday that House Democrats’ Trump impeachment counsel Dan Goldman also intends to run.

Rivera, 38, is touting herself as a daughter of the district and with a record in the City Council that includes passage of the contentious NoHo/SoHo rezoning and action to protect the East River neighborhoods she has lived in her whole life from a rising sea level.

“I was born in Bellevue Hospital, I grew up in Section 8 housing on the Lower East Side, I went to school here, I played basketball at the cage on West 4th Street, I got married in the South Street Seaport – every milestone in my life is here. And I know the struggles that everyday New Yorkers face because I’ve lived it myself,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. I’ve had student debt. I’ve stood in Housing Court with my family, with my neighbors and with my community.”

“This is more than just a job to me. This is about taking care of the community that raised me,” she added.

Rivera enters the race with a valuable ally in Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens), whose current 7th Congressional District overlaps significantly with the future 10th Congressional District. THE CITY’s “Have I Been Redistricted” tool shows that 45% of constituents in the district Rivera will be vying for are represented by Velázquez now.

Velázquez, who is running for re-election in the new 7th District, is “a close mentor and friend,” Rivera said. In recent weeks, the 15-term congresswoman — who has not yet endorsed anyone in the 10th District primary — encouraged Rivera to jump in the race, and the two talk multiple times a day, according to a source close to the campaign.

A spokesperson for Velázquez did not respond to a request for comment.

Lower East Side Focus

Currently, longtime Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn) holds the 10th District. But lines drawn by a court-appointed special master and approved last month have consolidated the once-sprawling district into a more compact area covering lower Manhattan and parts of brownstone Brooklyn — and excluding Nadler’s Upper West Side residence.

Nadler is now running in the 12th District, where he lives — pitting him against incumbent Carolyn Maloney, whose current Manhattan-Brooklyn-Queens district will become Manhattan-only.

East River Park on the Lower East Side in 2020, prior to construction work promoted by Councilmember Carlina Rivera to protect neighbors from flooding. Credit: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The new 10th District leans heavily Democratic, spanning all of Manhattan below 14th Street and areas of Brooklyn spanning Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights to Park Slope all the way to Sunset Park and Borough Park. Whomever wins the Democratic primary in August is expected to cruise to a November general election victory.

First elected to the Council in 2017, Rivera now represents several Manhattan neighborhoods where she’ll be wooing voters, including parts of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, the East Village and Alphabet City. 

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Rivera listed housing and climate change among the top issues in the district, and touted her efforts to expand affordable housing development and climate resiliency. 

Chief among them: leading the effort to advance East River Coastal Resiliency, a $1.45 billion project funded by the city and federal government to raise East River Park with up to 10 feet of landfill to prevent the recurrence of flooding on Manhattan’s East Side – a project she said “is really important for me.”

Currently under construction, the project has stirred vocal opposition, including claims the plan did not receive adequate community input and doesn’t go far enough to address the effects of climate change.

Rivera said she kept people living in NYCHA housing along the river — “who are really symbolic of our coastal community that are going to keep experiencing the effects of climate change” — front of mind in pushing for the project.

That effort has paid off in her congressional bid, too: Among her early supporters is Camille Napoleon, the tenant president of NYCHA’s Baruch Houses.

Other early supporters include deputy Council Speaker Diana Ayala (D-Manhattan/The Bronx), and Brooklyn Council members Jen Gutierrez, Alexa Avilés and Sandy Nurse.

Rivera lives with her husband, attorney and entrepreneur Jamie Rogers, in Kips Bay, which is within the boundaries of her Council district but outside the boundaries of the 10th District. She said in an interview that she plans to move.

As a Council member, Rivera belonged to a group of lawmakers who spearheaded a landmark slate of bills granting new rights to the city’s app-based delivery workers, from restaurant bathroom access to minimum pay requirements.

Her record is not without controversy: During her first election in 2017, it was reported that she and Rogers, then chair of Community Board 3, lived in a Section 8 apartment on Stanton Street. The couple defended the apartment – amid reports of photos of Rogers sailing on his father’s yacht that were scrubbed from social media – and claimed they qualified to live there. Tenants were capped at an income limit for a family of two of $61,050 at the time. 

They moved after she was elected to the city Council.

Prior to her election to the city Council, Rivera served as legislative director to her predecessor, Rosie Mendez. She also worked at Good Old Lower East Side, a local community nonprofit, as director of programming.