City Council candidate Maritza Davila welcomed the endorsements of five state legislators on the steps of City Hall last Friday, as she finished a long week of petitioning to be on the ballot for September’s primary.
“I am a community organizer by default,” said Davila. “I organized my own building 20 years ago when the tenants, including myself, did not have heat or hot water and it taught me some valuable lessons in advocacy and organizing. I never thought that 20−something years later I would be running for City Council.”
Davila was joined by Brooklyn Assemblymember Vito Lopez, Brooklyn State Senator Martin Dilan, Brooklyn Assemblymember Hakim Jeffries, Queens Assemblymember Jose Peralta, and Manhattan Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat, who officially endorsed her in the race for the 34th City Council District.
Davila is running against the incumbent, Councilmember Diana Reyna, who is seeking a third term, and Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito.
“From my point of view, I’m troubled that Diana cast her vote to legislatively appeal term limits,” said Jeffries, whose district borders the 34th Council District. “It is a power grab and an insult to the eight million voters of New York City. Maritza has a track record of community service, affordable housing, and rent regulation reform, which is important to the community that I represent.”
Lopez, who is also the chair of the Kings County Democratic Committee, has been instrumental in introducing Davila to his colleagues in the Legislature and securing their support.
“I think it will be a very interesting battle,” said Lopez. “We believe this will be a very close and competitive race. Maritza voted for Obama as a state delegate and she has served as a tenant organizer for decades.”
When asked why he is supporting Davila for City Council after he backed her opponent, Diana Reyna, in the past two election cycles, Lopez pointed to an episode earlier this year when Reyna held up the development of an eight−unit Section 8 building on the border between Williamsburg and Bushwick.
In February, nearly 100 East Williamsburg residents demonstrated at City Hall to express their frustration with the councilmember. Many of them returned this week to hold Davila campaign signs and support her candidacy.
“We need to have a political coalition that works together,” said Lopez. “Marty [Dilan] and I work together and Maritza and I work together. There’s one link that’s missing.”
Reyna has previously acknowledged that there has been a steady erosion in relations between her and Lopez over the past four years.
“I have always put my community first and believe that politics should never be a factor in making affordable housing decisions,” said Reyna. “There is so much demand for affordable development in my district, and I must ensure that every organization that is able to build, not just the politically connected ones, gets that opportunity.”
Reyna has received endorsements from Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Queens Assemblymember Joseph Addabbo and Queens Councilmember Melinda Katz, the Teamsters, Local 237, American Federation of Musicians, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and Lambda Independent Democrats.
Esposito has received the endorsement of Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn and several members of Brooklyn Community Board 1.
Brooklyn Councilmembers David Yassky and Erik Dilan, son of Martin Dilan, whose districts border Reyna’s, have not made endorsements in the 34th District race. Yassky is reportedly upset that Reyna has backed Katz for City Comptroller, a rival in his candidacy for the citywide race, though he has not publicly stated his support for a candidate. Dilan, who is close to both Davila and Reyna, has also chosen to stay out of the race, though his father is backing Davila.