On September 13, residents of Brooklyn’s 54th Assembly District—which includes Bushwick and parts of Bed Stuy and Cypress Hills—will vote in a special election to replace Darryl Towns, whom Governor Cuomo appointed as the new housing czar. The candidate running on the Democratic line, Rafael Espinal, has also been endorsed by Brooklyn’s Conservative Party. “He shares a lot of our positions on values,” the party chairman told Nick Rizzo. Espinal opposes marriage equality, abortion rights, and “appreciates [the party’s] concern about out-of-control spending.” Espinal has also courted controversy for accepting a campaign contribution from an accused Manhattan slumlord who “has drawn civil and criminal charges from the city for allegedly forcing out tenants, failing to do maintenance, and allowing prostitution and drugs to run rampant,” the Daily News reports.
“Any candidate accepting money from a known slumlord is a disgrace,” a tenants-rights advocate told the News. (Assemblyman Dov Hikind has also accepted campaign contributions from this known slumlord, the News reports.) “I think it’s deplorable, especially in a neighborhood like that in a district like that with all of the problems of people trying to stay in their homes and avoid displacement.”
Espinal is not running unopposed. The special election has turned into a three-way race, pitting the Democrat against Jesus Gonzalez, who’s on the Working Families ticket, and Darryl Towns’ sister Deidra Towns (also Congressman Ed Towns‘ daughter), who’s running on the Community First line.