In an exclusive interview with LittleAfrica News, Mohammed Mardah shared his intention to run in the election for the newly opened 77th Assembly District seat. Mardah, a long-time resident of Assembly District 77, has been active in the community for over 20 years.
On Thursday, January 4th, New York State Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner abruptly announced her resignation effective January 8th from the State Assembly.
Joyner has served as the assemblywoman for Assembly District 77 for eight years as well as chair of the assembly’s Labor Committee.
In her post on X (formerly Twitter), Joyner shared her appreciation for serving the constituents of the 77th district, saying, “It has been my great honor to serve as the Assembly Member representing the 77th Assembly District for almost a decade. Serving in this capacity has been an immense privilege. The victories we achieved together – for Bronx families, our community, and New Yorkers across the state – will forever be among my proudest accomplishments. I’m eternally grateful to my constituents, legislative team, union leaders, community partners, and fellow public servants who stood alongside me throughout this remarkable journey.”
With the abrupt resignation of Joyner from the assembly, New York Governor Kathy Hochul will now call a special election that will most likely take place at the end of March or the beginning of April to replace Joyner with the regular assembly primaries occurring in June.
Joyner’s unexpected resignation now makes Assembly District 77 an open seat. Potential Democratic candidates will need to decide whether or not they will seek the democratic county committee’s endorsement or run on an independent party line in the special election – or only compete in the June primary.
Assembly District 77 is home to a large and growing population of Africans. The African community in Assembly District 77 is one of the fastest-growing African communities in the city.
The opening of this seat is viewed as a chance for the African community to finally have representation in the Bronx.
Joyner’s resignation presents an opportunity for the African community in the Bronx to have representation on a legislative level which allows them to come out of the shadows, to stop being invisible, and to have a seat at the table.
Mardah, who started his political journey and community service journey with City Council Member Reverend T. Wendell Foster, has been an advocate for the African community. He served as one of the first members of the African Leadership Council established by Helen Diane Foster when she succeeded her father as Councilwoman of District 16.
Mardah is the former chairperson of the African Advisory Council of the Bronx Borough President’s office. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Botanical Garden, where he represents the New York City Comptroller, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world with an average of 2 million visitors per year.
Mardah is the Executive General Secretary of the Muslims and Immigrant Coalition for Justice, a member of the Board of Bridge Builders, an advocacy organization in Highbridge, and a long-time member of the Bronx Community Board 4, serving on the Youth and Education Committee.
He served as the youngest Executive Secretary General of the National Council of Ghanaian Associations, NCOGA, the umbrella organization of Ghanaian organizations in the Tristate Area. Mardah is currently a member of the NCOGA Board of Directors. A strong advocate for education and public safety, Mardah is a member of the NYC School Safety Coalition.
Mardah, a married father of two, has also served as the President of the Yankasa Association of the U.S.
Mardah is the candidate the African community has been waiting for.
When asked why he decided to run for Assembly, Mardah said, “I am running for the Assembly seat of District 77 because I believe that I can make a difference in the District. For too long, we have been invisible, and I dare say, it is time to be visible. It is time to represent not only the emerging African population in the district, but all the residents of Assembly District 77. I am urging all our community leaders in the district and beyond, to join the forces of change that is going to sweep through the Bronx, and hopefully expand throughout the city. The time for emerging populations is now, and together we can pull this off.”
Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant, said, “Every new group has achieved through numbers alone its political moment. Now is the moment for African New Yorkers to begin their climb to the power their population and contributions dictate.”
Sheinkopf continued, “The cab, livery, uber drivers, service workers, small business operators, scholars, students, religious leaders, professionals, physicians, medical personnel—the entire variety of New York Africans—deserve real political power and an elected official to represent them who will fight for Africans in the Bronx and throughout New York State.”
African community leaders are firmly behind Mardah’s candidacy all echoing the same sentiment, “Our Time is Now.”
Ahmadou Diallo, who ran in City Council District 16 and came in 2nd in a hotly contested 4-candidate race, said, “I have known Mohammed Mardah for almost 20 years. He is a man of integrity and the best candidate to represent Assembly District 77. Mardah has lived in the district for two decades. He has worked to serve his fellow neighbors and advocate for them as a Community Board 4 member, former chairman of the African Advisory Council of The Bronx Borough President’s Office, board member of Building Bridges, and as board member of the New York Botanical Gardens.
Diallo continued, “I am proud to work with my brother, Mohammed, to ensure the people of Assembly District 77 have the representation they deserve and for Africans to finally have representation in New York State.”
Djounedou Abdoulaye Titikpina said, “This is really great news for our community. I have known Mohammed Mardah for over 20 years, and I am one of several African leaders urging him to run for office, and finally, the day has come. I am urging all our community members to rally behind him as I know he can represent us well, not only in District 77 but in the entire New York City.”
Ambroise Ngande said, “This is a great opportunity for the African community to take a political stance. The time is now, and Mohammed Mardah gives us the best chance. He is a long-time community activist and leader, not only in the District, but in New York City. We cannot afford to miss this great opportunity. We must come together, rally behind him, and give him the necessary support, physically and financially. The time is now!!”
Sheinkopf, when asked what possible obstacles stand in the way of Africans finally having representation in the Bronx, said, “Let’s hope political organizations do not do what has been done in the past to African Americans, Latinos, Jews, Italians, and others. Let the Africans have their moment with no obstructions. Smart ethics and smart politics.”
The time for the African community being invisible must end.