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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Diana Reyna, Dem 10,483 - 86 percent
Anthony Miranda, Fus 1,040 - 9 percent
Julio Mercado, Con 477 - 4 percent
Jorge Vazquez, Lib 171 - 1 percent
Diana Reyna 6,351
Juan D. Martinez 5,780
Edward Norman 1,767
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Victor L. Robles (can't
run in 2001)
- Julio Mercado (RTL)
- Diana Reyna (Dem/Ind)
- Jorge Vazquez (Lib)
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Juan Martinez
Julio Mercado has not yet filed.
to Ed Norman
to Diana Reyna
Jorge Vazquez has not filed.
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
Anthony Miranda and Julio Mercado have been knocked off the ballot
for the Democratic primary. Mercado will still be a candidate
in the November general election as a Conservative and Right-To-Life
candidate. See the Campaign Update for more details. Posted
Keeping Bushwick Blooming (And Williamsburg
In Williamsburg and Bushwick, where a thousand new homes are
blooming, the past is still visible. Large abandoned lots are
still scattered among the new single-family homes and the renovated
apartment buildings. New parks compete with failing schools. New
businesses go up in the shadow of old garbage facilities and power
plants. Hope for a renaissance is undercut by memories of a desolate
past, and threats from an uncertain future.
Much has improved in the neighborhoods of district 34, which
once lost 20 percent of their housing and nearly half their businesses
from massive arson and general neglect, leaving a landscape primarily
of barbed wire and wild grass. Along with the new single-family
homes, businesses and parks, crime has declined, with murders
down 72 percent and robberies down 58 percent since 1994.
But district 34 is still one of the poorest in the city, in need
of secure and affordable housing, education reform, and environmental
These issues are on the minds of the four candidates looking
to fill Victor Robles' seat on the City Council. Each hopes to
convince the overwhelmingly Hispanic, Democratic voters that they
are capable of continuing the resurgence of a once neglected area.
Perhaps the most challenging issue facing the area of Brooklyn
is the environment. With the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill
in Staten Island, district 34 and surrounding districts handle
90 percent of the city's commercial trash and half of the residential
garbage. There are plans for two new trash barges along the East
River. There is also a constant struggle over whether more power
plants should be built in the area.
"There is no excuse for putting our children at risk. I propose
to protect our neighborhoods from the dangers of toxic waste,"
said Diana Reyna, who is chief of staff for State Assemblyman
Reyna said if elected she hopes her political experience and
involvement with Communities United for Responsible Energy, a
coalition of environmental groups against the expansion of power
plants, would help address environmental issues for her district.
"I am a dedicated public servant; a diversified candidate with
experience in the political process who can make a difference
in the environmental issues," said Reyna.
Anthony Miranda, founder of the Latin Officer's Association,
is also looking to bring environmental change, but he thinks the
only answer is to do away with "old style politics."
"I am confident in my ability to be independent of party affiliations
and still have the knowledge base to help the public," said Miranda,
who is running as an Independent party candidate. "Where have
our elected officials been? It's a habit in our district to fight
after the fact. I am going to change that."
Housing is another major concern for Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Miranda believes that homeownership is key to the revitalization
of the area since only 11 percent of residents own a home. "The
money should be brought back into our own community to continue
the battle against unstable housing and to make housing more affordable,"
Rev. Edward Norman, brother of State Assemblyman Clarence Norman
Jr., echoes Miranda's call for making more affordable housing.
". Many people in our district are unable to fulfill their dreams
of owning a home," said Norman. "I am looking forward to working
with credit unions and the people in our district to achieve their
According to all of the candidates, education is an important
issue in a district where over a third of the population is under
the age of eighteen.
There is some sign of progress: PS 75, an elementary school in
Bushwick, was recently removed from a list of failing schools.
But in schools like Bushwick High School, the graduation rate
is only 35 percent. Bushwick is home to Intermediary School 111,
which was one of the five troubled schools that was selected for
prospective privatization under the Edison plan. Now that the
Edison plan was defeated, the problems still have to be solved,
the candidates said. "We have to build new schools and take care
of them for our present and our future," declared Norman.
Clearly, a complete rebirth of the area will take some time and
the candidates for City Council have hard work ahead. But there
are small and encouraging signs.
Anthony Miranda and Julio Mercado have been knocked off the Democratic
ballot, according to the Board of Elections. But Mercado will
be on the general election ballot in November as a Conservative
and Right-To-Life party candidate.
"I am thoroughly disgusted with the practices of the Democratic
party," said Mercado, a local minister. He is continuing to campaign
and said affordable housing is the main issue for the district.
"People have been relocated and rents are too high," said Mercado,
"There is plenty of space around here, and we have to get city
and private funding to build low-income housing."
Anthony Miranda said the two front-runners -- Diana Reyna and
Juan Martinez, who have both gained a number of prominent endorsements
from Brooklyn politicians -- have used the Democratic machine
to "wine, dine and dilute the vote."
Reyna, who is the female district leader of the 53rd Assembly
District, defends her endorsements, which include Assemblyman
Vito Lopez, Councilmember Martin Malave-Dilan, Councilmember Stephen
DiBrienza, and the Bushwick United Democrats. "Endorsements can
be important because they clearly highlight the needs of the people,
and they highlight who will be effective in a political position,"
Martinez, president of community school board 14, has the backing
of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilmember Kenneth Fisher,
and the North Brooklyn Democratic Club. Martinez did not respond
to a request for an interview
Juan Martinez is president of Community School Board 14.
Since 1980, he has served as the director of Progress, Inc., a
group that provides funding and assistance to Latino non-profits
Anthony Miranda is founder of the Latino Officer's Association
and has worked for the New York Police Department for twenty years.
He is currently the Street Narcotics Enforcement Sergeant in Police
Service Area 2 in east New York. He attended New York City Technical
College in 1984 and he graduated from John Jay College of Criminal
Justice in 1992.
Julio Mercado has been an ordained minister for twenty-three
years. He graduated from Jamaica high school, received his BA
in sociology from York College, attended the New York Theological
Seminary. Mercado has also served as president of the 90th Precinct
Clergy Council as well as on the Association of Hispanic Pastors.
Ed Norman is a pastor at the Brooklyn United Methodist
Church. He graduated from Brooklyn College and Drew Theological
Seminary. He was a junior high school teacher and is a member
of School Board 32.
Diana Reyna has been chief of staff for Assemblyman Vito
Lopez and is also an appointed member of community board 4, where
she has served as co-chair of the sanitation committee and as
a member of the committee on parks and recreation. She is the
Executive Director of the Brooklyn United Democratic Club and
is a founder and member of the Board of Directors to the Bushwick
Cooperative Federal Credit Union.
Jorge Vazquez (no information available).
According to the Daily News, candidates who sit on community school
boards receive fund-raising boosts within their school districts.
The candidate who has benefited most from the boost is Juan Martinez.
"After lying idle and garbage-strewn for more than a decade, the
old Rheingold brewery site in Bushwick is slated for a city-sponsored
The first thing NY1 noticed about activist Juan Martinez is he
likes to hug a lot. Now he hopes his Brooklyn neighbors embrace
him back. "I wanted to start this interview in a place I've made
a difference," he said. For Martinez, that place is a plaza outside
Woodhull Hospital. He helped spruce it up as president of the
Community Board, and Martinez says it's evidence of his efforts
to change the feel of the district, which is the poorest in Brooklyn.
"If you'd be from this community and been here five years ago
you would have seen a place around us that looked like a jail
cell," said Martinez. Martinez wants to turn around the district's
schools as well. He was recently reinstated as head of the Community
School Board. Former Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew removed Martinez
from the post in 1999 for not being aware of a scandal that illegally
funneled millions of dollars to a local school. However, Martinez
says, "I had no part and no knowledge and no participation in
this terrible scheme, and the Central Board overturned Crew."
Diana Reyna helped bring the Buena Vida Nursing Home, the first
Latina nursing home in New York, to Brooklyn. As chief of staff
to the local assemblyman, Vito Lopez, she's gotten involved all
over the district, which includes Bushwick, Williamsburg and parts
of Bedford-Stuyvesant. But Reyna seems focused on improving the
lives of the Latino community that makes up the bulk of the area.
For example, "Growing up in the Williamsburg community, you remember
seeing housing developments going up, and we'd be the last of
those units being rented to others and we never had a chance to
apply. We've been pushed out of the neighborhood." Reyna has the
support of her current boss, while Martinez is backed by the local
congressman, Ed Towns. (New
Anthony Miranda supports Fernando Ferrer's 10-point plan to revamp
the Civilian Complaint Review Board. (Daily
In the race to succeed City Councilmember Victor Robles in District
34, political heavyweights are lining up behind the different
candidates-Assemblymember Vito Lopez behind Dominican-born Diana
Reyna, Congressman Edolphus Towns seems to be leaning towards
local school board head Juan Martinez, and Congresswoman Nydia
Velazquez is likely to support her aide Evelyn Cruz if Cruz enters
the race. Other candidates: Latino Police Association head Anthony
Miranda and the Rev. Edward Norman, brother of Brooklyn Democratic
County Leader Clarence. (Daily
Brooklyn Democratic boss, Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr., wrote
just one check, $250 to brother Ed Norman's bid for a Bushwick
Council seat. (Daily
Bob Liff gives a run-down of some crowded City Council races.
5/29/00 Anthony Miranda speaks on need for change in district