Bushwick pol back in action, surrounded by allies

The Brooklyn Paper
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Machine Bushwick Assembly candidate Erik Dilan bested his challenger from the faltering left wing of Brooklyn liberal politics in Tuesday night’s low-turnout primary election.

Dilan took 1,903 of the votes to Kimberly Council’s 1,277 in the 54th Assembly District race. The victory marked Dilan’s return to politics after his three terms as neighborhood councilman ended in 2013. Dilan said his name recognition in the district helped carry him to victory.

“I have a strong track record, and I think that helped,” he said at his victory party at Macorix, a Dominican restaurant in Cypress Hills.

Dilan said his first orders of business would be to work on securing affordable housing for the community, as well as equal pay for women, immigration reform, and crime reduction.

A constituent on hand at the shindig said he appreciates Dilan’s humble demeanor.

“He is not interested in taking credit for things he does not do,” said Cypress Hills resident Bill Leonardi.

Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick) is a onetime Dilan staffer whose just-vacated Assembly seat Dilan will now occupy. Predictably, he had Dilan’s back at the party.

“I see the passion he has to improve the lives of people who live in this district,” Espinal said.

Espinal’s seat has been vacant since the beginning of the year when he quit the Assembly to take Dilan’s just-vacated Council seat.

Council’s loss marks a second straight defeat for the Working Families Party-backed candidate, who lost alongside Dilan to incumbent Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D–Bushwick) last year.

Council did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday night.

Dilan was a protege of disgraced former assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, who encouraged him to run against Velazaquez. And his roots in borough politics go deeper still to his father, state Sen. Martin Dilan, who secured the Democratic nomination for a third term representing Bushwick in Tuesday’s primary.

The younger Dilan has, in the past, come out in favor of police oversight and as a councilman voted against allowing bicycle commuters to take their bikes into buildings.

Council is a Baptist minister and reference librarian at a Wall Street law firm.

Both candidates ran on an anti-gentrification message, a prudent tactic in the neighborhood with the second-most rapidly rising rent in Brooklyn, according to real estate industry data.

The union-backed Working Families Party made big gains in 2013’s election with upset wins by many of its Council candidates and in the mayoral and public advocate races, but its formidable canvassing apparatus was not enough to bring some contenders in its midterm election slate ahead of the old-guard Democratic machine. In addition to the 54th Assembly District, the party suffered setbacks in Canarsie’s 19th state Senate District, where its Dell Smitherman lost to incumbent John Sampson despite Sampson’s looming corruption indictment. Its endorsees also lost in Park Slope’s 20th state Senate District and Brooklyn Heights’ 52nd Assembly District, but it did score big in Flatbush with a win by Rodneyse Bichotte over outgoing Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs’ pick L. Rickie Tulloch.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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