Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael Espinal announced Tuesday his bid for NYC public advocate.
A lifelong resident of East Brooklyn, Espinal is serving his second term as Councilmember for the 37th District, representing Bushwick, Brownsville, East New York and Cypress Hills.
His announcement comes after the incumbent Tish James scored a historic victory during last week’s midterm elections by becoming the first woman elected as NY State Attorney General. With James leaving her position, Mayor Bill de Blasio is tasked to set a special election come February to fill the role.
As public advocate, Espinal would serve as an ombudsman who provides oversight for city agencies, and investigates and addresses citizens’ complaints about city services; he also would be the first in line to succeed the mayor. Espinal hopes to inspire millennials while proposing solutions that make NYC more livable and environmentally friendly.
“The reality is that it’s getting harder and harder to live here, and for many of us, impossible,” said Espinal. “I feel the concerns of my fellow New Yorkers who often worry if they will be able to continue to afford living here, if the MTA will be working, if we are doing everything we can to improve our environment. We can’t continue being a city that is driven by crisis. Instead, we should be shaping the future of our city with new ideas that will create sustainable solutions.”
Sustainability has been a focus for Espinal who has emerged at the forefront of pushing for a greener city. This year, he proposed a plastic straws ban as well as mandatory green roofs for commercial buildings. In collaboration with Brooklyn Borough President Adams, he also launched the city’s web portal NYC Urban Agriculture, which supports community gardeners and urban farmers with resources and guidelines.
Additionally, he gained attention when the City Council passed his ‘Potty Parity’ bill which requires all public restrooms to be equipped with diaper changing tables, accessible to both men and women.
Espinal is joining fellow Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams in the race for Public Advocate, who announced his bid last Tuesday. If elected, Espinal would be the first Latino to hold a citywide office.