I am a lifelong resident of Brooklyn and currently the City Council Member for the 37th district, proudly serving the diverse communities of Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York.
I chair the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, where I have overseen the implementation of NYC’s successful Paid Sick Leave Law, passed consumer protections for women, seniors, and immigrants, while also protecting your wages at work or at the cash register. My most recent focus is on how we as consumers and businesses can become more eco friendly. We are starting with the plastic straw. I also continue to fight for a more fair and vibrant marketplace for small businesses in NYC and your rights as an employee. In early 2018, I introduced a bill that will give you the right to digitally disconnect from the workplace after normal business hours.
In my first term as a Council Member, I secured unprecedented levels of investments for my community in ENY by passing what some have called “the most comprehensive neighborhood plan” in the City of New York. It included over a quarter of a billion dollars to address unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and affordable housing issues. The New York Times endorsed my move and stated, “Espinal did the right thing by his constituents.” Only 2 years after the adoption of the plan, the community has already begun seeing the benefits of these comprehensive investments. I hope to accomplish the same in Bushwick and Brownsville.
Most recently, I worked to give the Nightlife community a voice by passing historic legislation to create the nations first "Night Mayor" and Office of Nightlife, tasked with fostering NYC's iconic music venues, Restaurants, Bars and its community. I later made history by repealing a notoriously suppressive and archaic law that prohibited people from dancing in establishments for 91 years, the Cabaret Law. These actions sparked excitement back into NYC's nightlife and gave a voice to NYC's most marginalized communities. In 2017, I was recognized by Time Out NY as a New Yorker of the year for my work.
I largely focus on issues affecting every single one of us, but most especially those of us without a voice, wether or not you are in my district. In 2015, I spearheaded the creation of a $3 million dollars city initiative to help 30,000 Holocaust Survivors living in poverty receive much needed social services to live the remainder of their lives in dignity.
As I mention earlier, one of my passions lies in protecting our environment while creating a more sustainable city for us to live in, and have a strong focus on legislation to create new food sources, reduce waste, lower our carbon footprint through green infrastructure and push for renewable energy.
Born at Woodhull Hospital in Bedford Stuyvesant to Dominican immigrants, Rafael was the third of six children and attended public schools in East New York. Growing up in a working class family, Rafael learned the value of hard work from a very young age. Both of his parents were union workers, which has instilled in him a dedication to organized labor and the need to secure access to good paying jobs and benefits for all.
His dedication to service, especially in low income communities, has guided Rafael’s career since his graduation from college. At the age of 23, Rafael taught Adult Literacy and General Education Degree (GED) courses in the neighborhoods he represents. Determined to continue to make a difference and committed to securing resources for his community, he sought an opportunity to work for New York City Councilman Erik Martin Dilan in 2007.
In 2011, Rafael Espinal stepped up to the opportunity of serving the 54th Assembly District as an NYS Assembly Member. Over his two years in the NY State Assembly, he passed 4 bills, fought for health care, immigration, and fiscal issues, and continued to help his community by putting pressure on City and State agencies to provide services the district needed and deserved. His work was recognized by the New York publication, City and State, in their “New York City’s Rising Stars 40 under 40” list. In 2013 he was elected to the City Council, where he currently is continuing his work on the behalf of his district and all New Yorkers.