A little over a week ago, City Councilmember, Rafael Espinal, announced he would be stepping down from his post in the city council. Since then, a few re-enforcements have stepped up.

Two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to fill his seat as the new representative of the 37th district, which includes Cypress Hills, Bushwick, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and East New York.

A special election is set for April 28, 2020.  Check out the candidates who have confirmed their spot in the race:

Williamsburg native Darma Diaz is the current director of the Queens-based housing social-service organization, Overcoming Love Ministries, and the female Democratic district leader for the 54th Assembly District. There has been word that because of the 54th Assembly district and 37th Council District overlap, there may be existing familiarity between Diaz and the constituents who will vote in the special election.

Though no official statement has been made, Diaz gained the seal of approval from Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader and former Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. In an interview with City & State, Bichotte described Diaz as “very active in her community,” and someone who has “proven skills.”

On her website, Diaz describes herself as “a vibrant and enthusiastic no-nonsense go-getter” who “has been an active advocate for the residents students, and non-profit organizations throughout the district and beyond for over 27 years.”

Sandy Nurse

Sandy Nurse, a carpenter, community activist and co-founder of Bushwick’s Mayday Space, is a progressive whose political roots are in community activism and social justice.

Upon announcing her run for the city council seat last week, Nurse told the Brooklyn Paper, “I am someone who comes out of movements for social justice, and I have been working in the community to give young people good jobs.”

Initially, Nurse was in the race to take the seat of Erik Dilan, the current New York State Assemblyman for the 54th District. However, she decided to change course upon hearing the news of Espinal’s sudden resignation.

Nurse was Born in Panama, but since moving to Bushwick almost a decade ago, she has sought to fight for issues that matter to her community.  Nurse is vocal about not taking donations from real estate companies for her campaign and, in the past, supported the community-proposed alternative to Mayor de Blasio’s plan to re-zone Bushwick. She has a proven track record of community organizing and employing youth through her compost collective, BK Rot.

She received an endorsement from the New Kings Democrats, a progressive, grassroots political organization.

A few others also rumored to be running include Samy Nemir-Olivares, who is currently in the race for District Leader in NY State Assembly; Helal Sheikh and Kimberly Council, both of whom ran against against Espinal in the 2013 city council election; and Christopher Durosinmi. However, none of these candidates have responded to calls or confirmed their intentions to run for in the special election for the 37th District seat at the time of this report.


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  1. Darma Diaz is unfit for this position. East New York needs a stronger and bolder councilor. There are far better candidates than her.

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