Female Democratic District Leader Darma Diaz (Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Cityline, Cypress Hills, East New York and Highland Park) has given the past 30 years of her life to her community and now she is upping her game.
Diaz, 51, announced this week, she is running in the April 28 special election to replace term-limited City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills, and East New York in Brooklyn), who resigned over the weekend to take a job with a large nonprofit organization.
“My life’s passion has been serving others and my community. Now, I want to serve my constituents at a higher level,” Diaz told Kings County Politics.
Diaz is a proud Puerto Rican, whose parents raised her in Brooklyn after leaving the island and coming to New York City. She started her community service at 18 with volunteer work at the 83rd precinct as an auxiliary police officer.
“That was my real first break into community service.” She recalled, “I trained for 6 months just to volunteer for the NYPD, but I wanted to provide a safer environment in my district.”
She then went on to work as the Director of Community Relations under the auspices of former Assemblyman Darryl Towns. It was in this position, she got to work closely with tenants and advocacy groups to help fight for affordable housing and tenants’ rights – something that Diaz is putting as the cornerstone of her campaign.
Diaz was also a part of the Coalition for Community Advancement, a grassroots coalition of local homeowners, tenants and small businesses, community and civic organizations and houses of worship that opposed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2016 plan to rezone East New York and advocated for deeper levels of affordable housing, stronger protections against displacement and for more investment and benefits for local residents.
The final version, which included a lot of enhancements delivered by Espinal, was something that the coalition labeled as a step in the right direction, at best.
The plan included a major revision for the neighborhood, with the intention of building thousands of affordable houses within the community.
“I remember going to Tenant Association Meetings in my tenant building,” Daiz said of her childhood in Bushwick. “I was only 7 years old at the time.”
Daiz is also passionate about the young in the community getting proper educations. As such, she has served on the Board of Managers for the North Brooklyn YMCA for about 12 years, where she advocates for students’ rights, and has been apart of establishing three schools – one high school and two elementary – in her district.
Another primary aspect of Diaz’s campaign is to make the streets safer by focusing on crime reduction.
Already elected twice as the female Democratic district leader, Diaz wants to let the constituents in Espinal’s former 37th council district to know that she’s got what it takes.
“I will hit the ground running. Based on my volunteer work, I will bring the best resources possible to the district,” she said.