RETROSPECTIVE | Ruben Diaz Jr.: ‘I bleed this borough’

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As his final days as Bronx borough president winded down, the Bronx Times sat with Ruben Diaz Jr. to talk about his life and legacy.

It seemed the next logical step for Ruben Diaz Jr. after a 12-year, three-term run as Bronx borough president was a promotion to Gracie Mansion. The prospect of becoming New York’s first-ever Latino and Bronx-born mayor was not lost on the 48-year-old Puerto Rican Soundview resident, who had been involved in New York politics since 1997, when at the age of 23 he became the youngest member of the New York State Assembly since Theodore Roosevelt.

Diaz Jr., who went on to serve seven terms in the state Legislature, began making noise in Bronx politics as a charismatic progressive itching to change the status quo.

On the strength of the Rainbow Rebellion coalition – a rebel faction of the county’s Democratic party Diaz Jr. became one of the faces of a changing-of-the-guard in the Bronx that led to the ousting of longtime party boss Jose Rivera, who had been accused of rampant cronyism within the party until being unseated in 2008.

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