Battle on the waterfront: Rep. Velazquez takes on Councilmen Dilan, other Dems

Dilan to oppose Velazquez for House
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Brooklynites along the waterfront from Williamsburg to Sunset Park will cast their ballots on June 26 to decide whether 10-term Rep Nydia Velazquez (D–Brooklyn Heights) will retain her seat, or if the sprawling district will go to Councilman Erik Dilan (D–Bushwick), District Leader George Martinez (D–Sunset Park), or economist Dan O’Connor.

Velazquez and Dilan have decades-long careers in public service and have clashed repeatedly on the campaign trail over their records and progressive credentials. Martinez and O’Connor are newcomers hoping to tip the scales in the four-way race.

Here’s a brief synopsis to help you in the ballot booth:

Nydia Velazquez

• First Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives. Took office in 1992.

• Got her start as a special assistant to Rep Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene) in 1983 and served in City Council in 1984.

• Member of the House small business and financial services committees.

• Raised $446,728, but only $122,978 from individual contributors, and has $613,690 to spend, in part from previous fund-raising.

• Age 59, lives in Red Hook

Erik Dilan

• Three-term Councilman, elected in 2001. Former member of city school district 32.

• Chair of council’s housing and buildings committee.

• Raised $195,367, including $189,023 from individual contributions, and has $100,792 to spend.

• Age 38, lives in Cypress Hills.

Dan O’Connor

• Political neophyte, consulted with financial institutions in China and worked for an economic think tank in Hong Kong.

• Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

• Raised $56,663, including $55,893 from individual contributions, and has $1,784 to spend.

• Age 33, lives in Manhattan.

George Martinez

• Sunset Park District Leader, Occupy Wall Street organizer, and adjunct political science professor at Pace University.

• Made a hip hop video that has got media attention.

• Has not reported his campaign contributions, but his staff told the press they have budgeted $5,000 for the race.

• Age 38, lives in Sunset Park.

The Campaign

• Velazquez accused Dilan of being too closely tied to Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsburg), and that Dilan’s campaign was entirely Lopez’s idea. Dilan countered he has always wanted to run for Congress and that the newly redrawn district gives him a chance to win.

• Dilan appealed to voters in East Williamsburg and Bushwick by arguing that Velazquez opposed the Loft Law, which extends rental protections to hundreds of loft dwellers living in North Brooklyn. Velazquez played up a housing scandal involving Dilan, in which the politician reportedly received a below-market rate apartment from a developer who was a campaign donor.

• Both Velazquez and Dilan have trotted out heavy hitters for their endorsements. Velazquez can count on support from the state’s top women leaders, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D–Prospect Heights), and recently boasted backing from former Mayor Ed Koch and President Barack Obama. Dilan has pointed to support from a number of city and state officials including Lopez, Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Sea Gate), Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island), and his father, state Sen. Martin Dilan (D–Bushwick).

–Aaron Short

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.