Rafael Espinal

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Rafael Espinal
Member of the New York City Council from the 37th District
Assumed office
January 1, 2014
Preceded byErik Martin Dilan
Member of the New York Assembly from the 54th District
In office
September 14, 2011 – December 31, 2013
Preceded byDarryl C. Towns
Succeeded byErik Martin Dilan
Personal details
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materQueens College (B.A.)
WebsiteOfficial website

Rafael Espinal is an American politician. A Democrat, he represents the 37th District of the New York City Council, which includes portions of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills, and East New York in Brooklyn.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Espinal has lived in Brooklyn all his life, while his parents are from the Dominican Republic. He's the third of six children. He was raised in Cypress Hills, attending and graduating from New York City public schools, P.S. 108, I.S. 302, and Franklin K. Lane High School. Espinal attended Queens College and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English.

He first entered public service as an aide to City Councilman Erik Martin Dilan, ultimately serving as his Chief of Staff.

New York State Assembly[edit]

In his first campaign, Espinal won the open 54th district seat in the New York State Assembly in a special election held on September 13, 2011.[1][2] The seat was left vacant after Darryl Towns resigned from the post in order to take a position with Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration.[3] The assembly district represents parts of Bushwick, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cypress Hills, and Cityline in Brooklyn.[4]

Espinal had endorsements from the Brooklyn Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Conservative Party of New York State.[5] In a tight race, Espinal defeated Jesus Gonzalez running on the Working Families Party line and Deidra Towns running on her party platform, "Community First".[6]

In 2012, Espinal was named one of City & State's "New York City Rising Stars: 40 Under 40" for his work as New York State Assemblyman.[7]

New York City Council[edit]

In 2013, Espinal opted to leave the state Assembly to run for the New York City Council to succeed Erik Martin Dilan, and won the primary and general to take the seat in 2014.

In 2014 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an affordable housing plan that would create over 3,000 units of affordable housing in the Cypress Hills, East New York, and Ocean Hill portions of his district. Espinal used the opportunity to advocate for funding to address all of the social and infrastructure issues his community had experienced for decades. While facing opposition from a citywide advocacy group, Espinal was able to secure what some have called the most comprehensive rezoning plan in the City of New York,[8] over a quarter of a billion dollars to address unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and affordable housing issues. The New York Times endorsed Espinal's move and stated that "Espinal did right by his constituents" [9]

In 2017 Espinal introduced a bill calling for the full repeal of the New York City Cabaret Law, a regulation introduced in 1926 and often called racist, homophobic and authoritarian by its opponents.[10] [11]

Election history
Location Year Election Results
NY Assembly
District 54
2011 Special √ Rafael Espinal (D) 46.21%
Jesus Gonzalez (WFP) 34.61%
Deidra Towns (Community) 19.13%
NY Assembly
District 54
2012 Democratic Primary √ Rafael Espinal 65.91%
Juan C. Rodriguez 33.82%
NY Assembly
District 54
2012 General √ Rafael Espinal (D) 96.52
Khorshed Chowdhury (R) 3.42%
NYC Council
District 37
2013 Democratic Primary √ Rafael Espinal 45.85%
Kimberly Council 31.87%
Heriberto Mateo 12.01%
Helal A. Sheikh 10.26%
NYC Council
District 37
2013 General √ Rafael Espinal (D) 86.05%
Kimberly Council (WFP) 11.73%
Michael Freeman-Saulsberre (Conservative) 2.19%


  1. ^ a b Bredderman, Will (August 20, 2014). "Erik Dilan Defends 'Musical Chairs' With Rafael Espinal". New York Observer. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  2. ^ Robbins, Liz (2011-09-14). "Rafael Espinal and Other Democrats Win Assembly Seats". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Robbins, Liz (2011-09-02). "Brooklyn Special Election Could Upset Politics as Usual". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  4. ^ "New York State Assembly - Member Section". Assembly.state.ny.us. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  5. ^ "Editorial: Gonzalez for Assembly". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  6. ^ Blue Utopia. "Deidra Towns for NYS Assembly". Townsforassembly.org. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-01-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "East New York rezoning clears City Council land use committee". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Saving a New York Neighborhood From Gentrification". The New York Times. 23 April 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  10. ^ "New York City Council Bill 1652".
  11. ^ "NYC Councilman Announces Bill to Repeal No-Dancing Law".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Erik Martin Dilan
New York City Council, 37th District
Preceded by
Darryl C. Towns
New York City Assembly, 54th District
Succeeded by
Erik Martin Dilan