Martin Dilan talks politics, future plans
Since being elected to the New York State Senate in November 2002, Martin Malave Dilan is serving his eighth and final term in the 18th (formerly 17th) Senatorial District representing the North Brooklyn communities of Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Cypress Hills, City-Line, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville.
During his time in the Senate, Dilan has supported several causes such as tenant rights, public safety and numerous transportation issues including a ban on texting while driving and Leandra’s Law, which makes it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the car.
In last month’s Democratic primary, Julia Salazar, a 27-year-old activist and democratic socialist, defeated the 68-year-old incumbent. Salazar received approximately 6,000 more votes than Dilan.
The Eagle interviewed Dilan about his career and life after politics.
Sen. Dilan, you’ve been fortunate to serve eight terms, what are some accomplishments that come to mind when looking back at your career?
We took back North Brooklyn. We built new affordable homes and preserved green spaces. We saw reinvestment in the community, and helped keep seniors in the district. I’m proud to have tackled some big environmental issues in the district and throughout the state. Bushwick Inlet Park was a big win, I’m proud to have been a part of that. I’ll never forget passing gay marriage or the look on Lenny Rosado’s face when we passed Leandras’s Law. It’s a long list.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the North Brooklyn communities that supported you for all those years?
I thank them for their support. It was an honor working on their behalf.
What are some issues in the district that you’d like to see progress on?
Affordable housing very much remains an issue. I will tell you the reports about enforcement in the city are 100% true. For years, it has been a nightmare for my staff and me. We are throwing money at developing affordable housing and all we seem to be doing is building market-rate units with tax subsidies. If you take money to build affordable units, and deliberately withhold those units, there needs to be extremely serious consequences for that.
How we approach transit repairs and upkeep has to change. Our priorities are not in line with system demand. We have spent and allocated resources toward beautification, while the system’s foundations fell apart under our feet. We need to secure funding as well. Tax whomever you like. If it does not go to repairs, it is empty promises. We should restructure the gas tax while we are at it.
Why do you believe Julia Salazar won this year’s race?
North Brooklyn has always been a dynamic place. I have watched it change significantly while representing it. This election included.
Is there any advice you would offer her?
Everyone finds his or her own way.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future?
For now I’m catching up with friends and family. It’s been a hectic couple of years. The back and forth between Albany and Brooklyn. The late nights and early mornings of the budget and end of session. I’m taking the time to get back into the community. Eventually, I’ll find a new way to help out.