Race For Bushwick City Council Seat Heats Up

Darma V Diaz

The special election race to succeed former City Council Member Rafael Espinal (D-Brownsville, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill)), who resigned in January, is looking to be a contest between the three most-funded candidates.

According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board’s most recent figures, these candidates are Misba Abdin, who raised $19,575; Darma V. Diaz, who raised $15,895 and Sandra Nurse, who raised $2,444 respectively.

Misba Abdin

Abdin has raised the money from 256 contributors with his main fundraising platform being Facebook thus far.

“I haven’t done the real fundraising yet. This is just the beginning,” Abdin told Kings County Politics. “I am not a part of the political game. I am a resident of New York. I want to do things that haven’t been done.”

Abdin is also the founder of Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service and the Bangladesh Sport Council, a soccer league that “keeps kids busy during summers, away from the dangerous streets,” according to Abdin. 

Abdin sees crime as the biggest issue in East New York. “I’ve been living in East New York my whole life, and it has never been safe,” he said. Abdin said that he will advocate for safer streets. “I always say this: I can have a gold car and a gold house, but it wouldn’t matter in a neighborhood that is not safe.”

Darma V. Diaz

Diaz, the area’s female Democratic District Leader, also received a great deal of support from the community and other politicians. 

“Over 30 years of advocacy and activism in the district, and working on improving the city’s rezoning plan taught me a lot of what needs to be done. We knew that the Cypress Hills/East New York rezoning plan would be the first of many throughout the city, and now Bushwick and soon other parts of the district will also be rezoned,” Diaz told Kings County Politics.

Diaz has been endorsed by State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (Canarsie, East New York) and Assembly Members Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville), Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) and Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick) as well as from former U.S. Rep. Ed Towns, former State Sen. Martin Malavé Dilan and former Assemblyman Darryl Towns.

Within the city leadership, City Council Members Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brooklyn), Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn), Justin Brennan (D-Brooklyn), Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) and the Espinal support Diaz as well as a number of Democratic District Leader colleagues.

“My next steps will be to meet the overall goal of CFB in order to receive the maximum opportunity,” Diaz said, about the future of her campaign. 

Sandy Nurse

Former state assembly candidate Nurse is the founder of BK ROT, a bike-powered composting service, and the co-founder of Mayday Space, an organizing center in Bushwick. 

Nurse told Kings County Politics that she thinks that the main issue in her district is housing. “We knocked on over 1,500 doors, and every time we talked to someone at the door, they are concerned about housing. Housing stability, property taxes, rezoning issues, how their neighbors are going to stay,” she stated.

“We have a big team of volunteers,” Nurse said about her supporters. “I am feeling really strong  and I feel like our team is only gaining momentum.”

She has a volunteer group consisting of around 30 members, collecting signatures for petitions for her to appear on the ballot. 

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velasquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan), State Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Bushwick, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, parts of Bed-Stuy, East New York) and City Council Members Antonio Reynoso (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Ridgewood Queens) and Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) have publicly endorsed Nurse for the seat. 

“Sandy Nurse is a community organizer and first-time candidate with a growing base of grassroots donors who are coming together to demand real change for the district. The campaign has been engaging with voters, meeting with local groups, building an army of volunteers, hosting dozens of events and knocking on thousands of doors, “ Nurse’s campaign stated. 

Matching public funds will be distributed on March 6. The special election is April 28.