Council candidate runs against Vito — who isn’t in the race yet

Drawing lines: Candidate Antonio Reynoso is positioning himself as a champion of good schooling and equitable housing, as well as a major foe of Vito Lopez.
Community Newspaper Group / Danielle Furfaro

Council hopeful Antonio Reynoso has a clear path to City Hall, so long as the formidable foe he is currently shadowboxing — embattled assemblyman and rumored candidate Vito Lopez — doesn’t step foot in the ring.

Reynoso is spending much of his campaign blasting Lopez (D–Williamsburg), even though the influential pol, who lost his gig as borough Democratic party boss along with all of the perks of Albany seniority after his capitol peers punished him for sexually harassing staffers, has not yet announced his candidacy or filed paperwork for a run.

“Vito has been stripped of all his power in the state and he has nothing to do,” said Reynoso, who is vying for the seat his mentor — longtime Lopez critic Diana Reyna (D–Williamsburg) — will vacate at the end of the year due to term limits. “He has embarrassed himself and this is his last-ditch effort to salvage something.”

Rumors of a Lopez run in the 34th district, spanning Williamsburg, Bushwick, and a section of Ridgewood, Queens, reached terminal velocity this week when someone filed a campaign disclosure account with the state under the name “Vito Lopez for City Council.”

That was enough to turn a press conference announcing Reynoso’s endorsement by the National Organization for Women on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall into an all-out attack on Lopez.

“His egregious behavior makes it clear that he is not fit to hold office,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW’s New York City chapter.

Lopez did not respond to requests for comment, but insiders say running for the seat is a win-win for the assemblyman. If he loses, he still gets to keep the post he has held in Albany for 27 years. If he emerges victorious, he will swap his state paycheck of $79,500 — now docked of all of the perks of seniority due to the ethics scandal — for a council salary of $112,500, while nixing all of those lengthy trips to Albany as he deals with health woes.

Reynoso, 29, started his career in politics while he was in college at Le Moyne, where he founded the black political group Brothers on a New Direction. When he returned to Williamsburg after school, he became Reyna’s chief of staff.

In the past couple of months, Reynoso has racked up big endorsements from Council speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio, NOW, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, and the United Federation of Teachers — but those public displays of approval only matter so much in a district where Lopez remains beloved, according to borough politico Hank Sheinkopf.

“Endorsements are wonderful, but voters win races,” said Sheinkopf, who added that many residents of low-income housing units built with the help of Lopez and his affiliated non-profits will stay loyal to the assemblyman. “Many people who are accused of corruption have gone on to have long careers in politics.”

Other hopefuls in the race to replace Reyna include housing activist and Lopez ally Maritza Davila, who lost her race for the seat four years ago, and teacher Tommy Torres.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

Embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez has not yet declared he will run for the council seat.
The Brooklyn Paper / Aaron Greenhood

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