Bronx Special Election Could Establish A New Political Dynasty


Of the 5 candidates vying to return out on prime within the Bronx’s eleventh Council District particular election this month, Eric Dinowitz stands essentially the most to realize.

For Dinowitz, a lead contender, his prospect of profitable the seat is boosted by native identify recognition — his father, Jeff Dinowitz, is Assemblymember for the 81st Meeting District. The elder Dinowitz has represented the 81st for greater than 20 years and stays lively within the native Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Membership, the place Eric is a de facto member given his personal put up because the 81st Meeting District chief. The 2 already wield appreciable affect within the neighborhood of Riverdale, dwelling to their political base.

If the youthful Dinowitz wins, he and his father will set up a brand new political dynasty in a borough the place the period of political households has eroded. Such an final result has raised questions over whether or not father and son can legislate independently of one another for the reason that district Eric seeks to signify largely overlaps together with his father’s.

READ MORE: Particular Election Set For Bronx eleventh & fifteenth Council District Seats

“My worry is that they’re of 1 thoughts,” stated Jessica Haller, one other challenger within the race who’s been outspoken on political households. “Jeff and Eric are ideologically nearly equivalent, stay close to one another, are engaged with one another nearly on a regular basis. And I am very petrified of the situation.”

The halcyon days of Bronx political households have waned through the years, the place clans had carved out a bit of the pie. These golden years started within the late Nineteen Nineties, when present Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was sworn in as assemblymember. His father, the controversial Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr., ultimately joined him in public service, serving as a state senator earlier than being elected to the Council. Each legislators introduced they’ll retire from politics this yr.

Earlier than the Diaz dynasty, disgraced former state Senator Pedro Espada Sr. introduced his son, former assemblymember Pedro G. Espada, into politics in 1996. The formation of those political households continued within the 2000s with former Consultant Jose Serrano inspiring his son, state Senator Jose M. Serrano, to efficiently run for workplace. Whereas the elder retired from politics final yr, the son stays in workplace. Different Bronx political households included Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo and daughter Maria, who served as a councilmember, and the Rivera household, made up of present Assemblymember Jose Rivera, and his youngsters, former Councilmember Joel Rivera and former Assemblymember Naomi Rivera.

The elder Rivera—who served as chair of the Bronx Democratic Celebration—is arguably the important thing purpose political households earned a poor repute within the Bronx, with accusations that he handled the county social gathering as a nepotistic patronage mill, whereas arm-twisting social gathering leaders into pulling the political levers in getting his son Joel to function the Council’s majority chief.

Michael Benjamin, a former assemblymember within the Bronx who sits as an editorial board member for the New York Put up, bore witness to the reigns of those political households, which had rankled youthful members of the social gathering. Joel and Naomi are not in workplace, with the latter leaving in shame.

“They labored the social gathering exhausting for years,” Benjamin stated of social gathering loyalists. “And now to see these youngsters present up, who hadn’t been working within the trenches it irritated them.”

Bob Kappstatter, a former editor with the Every day Information’ Bronx Bureau, discovered that to be customary apply. A lot of that was pushed by the social gathering’s long-established rule in supporting the desires of incumbents. Kappstatter is now a political guide for Daniel Padernacht, one other challenger within the race.

“With incumbents operating their youngsters with social gathering backing, and the endorsements that backing brings, different aspiring candidates are discouraged from throwing their hats within the ring,” Kappstatter stated. “Inform me what social gathering goes to show down certainly one of their entrenched incumbents to again an excellent minimally certified son or daughter for an open?”

That appears to be the case for the eleventh Council District race, wherein the social gathering formally endorsed Eric Dinowitz.

Together with Padernacht and Haller, different candidates within the particular election race embrace Carleton Berkly and Mino Lora.

All through the marketing campaign, Eric has fended off criticism over his connection to his father. At a candidates discussion board in February, the youthful Dinowitz pressured he has demonstrated an unbiased streak, voicing differing opinions on standardized testing and the Democratic presidential nominee final yr.

“You must decide them as folks,” Jeff Dinowitz informed Gothamist/WNYC. “Every particular person must be judged individually on their very own deserves. And up till now, the one individuals who have had any concern with which can be individuals who aren’t supporting Eric within the first place and are searching for a purpose to say they are not.”

However political households aren’t unique to the Bronx, in keeping with the assemblymember. He pointed to Queens, the place the late Saul Weprin, who served as Meeting Speaker from 1991 to 1994—had two sons who entered politics, Mark and David Weprin, who’s now a candidate for New York Metropolis Comptroller.

“So is that this uncommon? John Adams, John Quincy Adams. Come on,” Dinowitz stated.

With a number of a long time within the highlight, the elder Dinowitz recalled warning his son on the pitfalls of operating.

“My first response is, ‘Are you certain need to do that? There’s a whole lot of nasty individuals who will undoubtedly attempt to assault you on the idea that you’ve the identical final identify as any person who’s already in public workplace,'” Dinowitiz stated. “So I will inform certainly one of my youngsters that they should not pursue their dream? After all I would not do this.”