Brooklyn Boro

Rafael Espinal announces run for Brooklyn Borough President

September 18, 2019 Scott Enman

Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael Espinal, who represents Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills and East New York, announced his candidacy for the 2021 Brooklyn Borough President race on Wednesday afternoon in a fundraising email to supporters.

Although Espinal officially filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board on Aug. 6, he had not made a public announcement about his run until Wednesday.

He is seeking $250,000 in donations by January in order to compete.

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Espinal said that if elected, he would focus on livability issues like improving transit, making the city more affordable and fighting homelessness.

“We start by delivering social, economic and environmental justice to underinvested communities, like the one I grew up in,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Then we work together to create and support bold ideas that will keep our city at the forefront of the most pressing issues facing us. Climate change, the affordability crisis and education reforms, to name a few.”

As councilmember, Espinal sponsored legislation to create the Office of Nightlife, abolish the cabaret law, and mandated the installation of  green roofs for all new commercial and manufacturing buildings.

Espinal told the Eagle the subway system will be a central issue in his campaign. He said he would work to fix the R train and hold the MTA accountable in expanding service to the borough’s transit deserts.

He also said he would use the office to push for environmental policies.


“We need to continue to green our borough’s infrastructure to deal with a lot of the environmental injustices that communities like East New York have faced, but also quality of life issues like Canarsie and Red Hook that constantly deal with flooding when there is a heavy downpour.”

Espinal, who will reach his term limit in the City Council in 2021, said he would strive to continue the work of current Borough President Eric Adams — who is widely believed to be running for mayor in 2021 — by pushing food and wellness legislation.

He said he would use the borough president’s capital budget to build affordable housing.

“It’s no secret that Brooklyn has a huge affordability crisis,” he said. 

Espinal finished seventh in the public advocate race earlier this year.

He joins Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso (Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood) and Robert Cornegy (Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights) in the race for borough president.

Lamor Whitehead-Miller, a Crown Heights-based preacher and activist, has also filed for the campaign.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.


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