And thanks to a recent redistricting, the 34th District now includes parts of Ridgewood in Queens, which means that the next City Council member has to be able to address a wide range of issues, from the growing nightlife scene in Williamsburg to the gentrification to the rising housing prices in Bushwick to quality of life issues in Ridgewood.
The next council member will have to possess an on-the-ground knowledge of the problems facing the district, which is why we endorse Gerald Esposito.
Esposito has been the district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 1 for the last three decades, as well as a longtime resident. During that time he has not only gained a superior knowledge of the district, but valuable experience working in government. He has also personally affected the lives of people throughout the area.
During an interview with our editorial board, Esposito told story after story, without pretension, of door-to-door campaigning where his name and reputation throughout the community proceeded him. From steering a troubled teenager down the right path through his work with the Boy Scouts to using his community connections to help a resident qualify for affordable housing, Esposito has been addressing the community's needs on a personal level for years, which is exactly the type of impact a council member should have on their district.
Diana Reyna, the current councilwoman, has been an effective leader for the area for the last eight years. Had term limits not been extended, she would have been forced from office this year, but is instead seeking a third term.
Recently, however, Reyna's stint as councilwoman has centered less on what she has delivered for her district and more on her relationship with Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Reyna once served as Lopez's chief of staff and enjoyed his political support, but for reasons that appear to stem from a personal falling out, Reyna no longer carries his backing and Lopez has been publicly critical of Reyna, a dispute that only hurts the constituents they are both charged with serving.
Instead, Lopez is backing longtime community activist Maritza Davila. Davila has worked for years at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, an organization founded by Lopez, on a variety of issues. When asked whether or not she would be beholden to Lopez in exchange for his support, she said “let's just say that we can agree to disagree.” That may be, but her ties to the assemblyman and his reputation for demanding loyalty leave us to question whether she can truly act independently of the assemblyman.
Davila has been a successful community organizer, and she should continue her work on behalf of the public, but outside of City Hall.
Esposito will not only be an effective representative for the district, he will be an independent thinker unfettered by county political ties who can act in the best interest of his constituents, and not the party leaders to whom he owes his job. For that, he deserves your vote.