City Councilman Oliver Koppell is stepping down at the end of the year because of term limits, and three Democrats are among those hoping to replace him in District 11, which covers a wide portion of Northwest Bronx. One of them, Shelley Keeling, is a 25-year Riverdale resident and the first African-American woman to run for the seat. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Shelley Keeling is talking business at Madison's Restaurant in Riverdale.
Keeling is running for City Council from the 11th district in the Northwest Bronx. She said that protecting the interests of these merchants is one of the things she's focused on.
"A deregulation of small businesses so that we do not run our small businesses out of the neighborhood," Keeling said.
With 34 years of experience in the real estate business, the 61-year-old also says she has a unique perspective on housing, from the viewpoint of a landlord and a co-op owner. She said she's already fought against co-op mismanagement.
She admitted she doesn't have much experience in politics, but said her age gives her a leg up on the other Democrats running for the seat, attorney Andrew Cohen and businessman Cliff Stanton.
"Experience, because I've been around longer," she said. "I have a lot of diversity in my background."
Keeling is no stranger to competition, but this time, she's racing for something different than what she has for in the past.
Keeling is also a track coach and a runner, with several gold medals won for the U.S. at the Eurogames and other events abroad. She said that gives her an edge in the council primary.
"It's important to me to always be about excellence, and that is what I think competition does for a person," Keeling said.
Keeling also used to run a business that brought fitness to the workplace, and her third platform is increasing physical education in city schools, specifically in competitive sports, through public-private partnerships.
"Competitive phys ed, besides learning that, it teaches you focus," she said. "It teaches you discipline, endurance. It teaches you how to accept defeat in a way that is healthy."
But Keeling doesn't plan on being defeated. She's looking towards the end of the race, with a goal of bringing fresh ideas to the City Council.