Though overshadowed by the special election to replace Anthony Weiner, a special election is also set for tomorrow in Bushwick to replace Darryl Towns, who left the state assembly to join the Cuomo administration. The three-way race in the 54th Assembly District has pitted Democrat Rafael Espinal against Towns’ sister Deidra, as well as Working Families candidate Jesus Gonzalez. We spoke to Gonzalez, a 26-year-old community organizer who’s been endorsed by The Daily News, El Diario and many local politicians, about why he’s the real Democrat in this race.
Why shouldn’t progressives support the Democrat in this election?
A lot of progressive folks are very angry right now because they feel like the Democrats in Albany—and Washington, D.C.—aren’t doing enough to fight for a more just and fair society. The truth is that folks in Brooklyn have felt that way about our elected officials for a long time. Many of them are not responsive to our community and don’t represent our needs or our interests. The Democratic party-bosses gave their ballot line to a party foot soldier who is also running on the Conservative party line. He’s clearly not a progressive—he publicly declared that he’s anti-choice and anti-gay marriage. Plus he is for trust management. In this election, the real Democrat is running on the Working Families Party line.
What’re some of the most important issues facing Bushwick right now?
The neighborhoods in the 54th district are home to a beautiful array of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean along with many black and white Americans. Unfortunately, the district is suffering from high unemployment, under-achieving public schools, too much police misconduct, a lack of real opportunity for our youth. I’ve been a community organizer in this district for 13 years, fighting to address all of these issues. As an elected official, I’ll be able to continue fighting for better jobs, better schools, and the accountable and transparent government that New Yorkers deserve.
What’s at stake in this election?
This election is about machine politics versus a grassroots reform movement. Everybody’s watching. If New Yorkers want a functional and accountable state government, we need to get out and vote on Tuesday!
To see if you live in the 54th Assembly District, or to search for polling places, click here. Special elections tend to have lower turnout rates than general elections, so the winner will likely be determined by who’s able to mobilize their base. Your vote counts!