Taking back New York City since 2007.
Rafael Espinal was born on the cusp of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant to working-class immigrants of the Dominican Republic in 1984 and is the third of six children. He attended public schools in East New York and grew up in Cypress Hills -- one of the most disinvested neighborhoods in New York City, at the time. A blessing in disguise, Rafael’s upbringing in an oppressed neighborhood with two unionized parents is what led him to become a powerful and progressive voice within the community for the past decade, currently as the Council Member for the City’s 37th District, where he proudly serves the beautifully diverse communities of Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York.
Thanks to his well-developed understanding of basic human needs, Rafael has been a guiding force in terms of his dedication to serving of low-income communities. After graduating from Queens College, he became a teacher of Adult Literacy and General Education Degree (GED) courses in his neighborhood, and shortly thereafter took advantage of an opportunity to work for New York City Councilman Erik Martin Dilan in 2007. Fast-forward to 2011, Rafael stepped up to the opportunity of serving the 54th Assembly District as a New York State Assembly Member. Over the course of 2 years in the New York State Assembly, Rafael passed 4 bills, fighting liberally for better health care, more sensible immigration practices, and fiscal policies that would benefit the greater good. His unwavering work was recognized by City and State as one of New York City’s “40 under 40 Rising Stars”. In 2013, Rafael was elected to the City Council, where he currently is continuing his work on behalf of not only his district, but of all New Yorkers. Within his first two years in office he passed the most comprehensive neighborhood investment plan in the city’s history, delivering unprecedented amounts of affordable housing, jobs and infrastructure investments to East New York.
As of late, Rafael has been well-known for voicing the concerns of New York City’s young and ambitious groups, championing efforts to preserve our healthy environment, foster art and creative spaces in gentrifying neighborhoods, and secure the rights of those who have been disenfranchised by the City, to provide for the majority, rather than the 1%.
In 2017 Rafael was named “New Yorker of the Year” by Time Out New York. He has zero plans to slow down any time soon, and plans to hold casual, public-facing gatherings as often as he can to ensure a continuing dialogue with New York City’s most valuable: you.