A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, Rafael L. Espinal Jr. is the Council Member for the 37th district, proudly serving the diverse communities of Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York. Council Member Espinal is Chair of the Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs, where he has overseen the implementation of NYC’s successful Paid Sick Leave Law, passed consumer protections for women, seniors, and immigrants, focused on protecting peoples wages at work or at the cash register, and continues to fight for a more fair and vibrant marketplace for small businesses in NYC.
In his short time as a Council Member, Rafael has already secured unprecedented levels of investments for his community. With overwhelming City Council support, Espinal was able to secure what some have called “the most comprehensive rezoning plan” in the City of New York; over a quarter of a billion dollars to address unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and affordable housing issues. The New York Times endorsed Espinal’s move and stated that “Espinal did the right thing by his constituents.” Only 6 months after the adoption of the plan, the community has already begun seeing the benefits of these comprehensive investments.
Rafael also focuses on issues affecting those without a voice, wether or not they are in his district. In 2015, he spearheaded the creation of a $2.5 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.
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 2010, 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.