Williamsburg City Councilmember Diana Reyna has won re-election and a third term after a hard-fought rematch against her former colleague, Democratic District leader Martiza Davila.
With 100 percent of precincts in the 34th District reporting, Reyna defeated Davila by over 4,000 votes, securing 9,830 to Davila’s 5647 (60 percent to 35 percent), after eclipsing her rival by only 251 votes during the Democratic primary. A Republican challenger, Jacqueline Haro, secured 916 votes (6 percent).
Less than half an hour after the polls closed, scores of Reyna volunteers were on the streets outside their South 1st street headquarters nearly shutting down Bedford Avenue.
“It’s a party in the street!” said Reyna volunteer Lincoln Restler.
The election was one of the more closely watched contests throughout the city. On October 29, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio recorded a robocall thanking Assemblymember Vito Lopez for his work in the state legislature regarding sex abuse legislation, but Reyna allies immediately questioned the timing of the calls, claiming they amounted to a tacit endorsement from the Catholic Church. Lopez endorsed Davila in the Democratic primary and had worked tirelessly to support her general election run on the Working Families Party line, despite being the Kings County Democratic Party leader.
A long day of electioneering was riddled with incidents, including complaints of broken election machines, Chinese interpreters improperly influencing voters, and volunteers moving within 500 feet of polling station. At one site at PS 19 (Bedford and South 3rd Street), a Reyna volunteer called the police several times as Davila supporters approached the polling station.
“They had their people right by the door,” said Karina Taveres, a Reyna campaign worker. “I called our lawyer and I called the cops. That was at 6 a.m. We’re here to play fair.”
Even a drive-by homicide occurred during the eventful day, just steps from Bill Thompson’s Williamsburg campaign office and a polling site where Reyna and Councilmember-elect Steve Levin (D-33rd), who won his general election race easily spent the entire day greeting voters as they approached the polls. The homicide was not election-related.
Reyna supporters pointed to Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s presence at two polling sites near Bushwick/Hylan Houses in East Williamsburg and confusion over the Row E listing for Davila which helped secure the victory. A Working Families Party candidate, Davila had been trying to get voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic district to select “Row E” while Reyna supporters repeated a message to voters to “Vote Democrat.”
“When you have a Democratic leader asking Democratic voters to switch lines it confuses the voter,” said Reyna, at MS 250, a polling site on Montrose and Manhattan Avenue, earlier in the day.
Diana Jackson was one voter who was not confused. A 30-year president of Cooper Park Houses, the one NYCHA building Reyna won in her primary, Jackson spent much of the past two weeks going door to door greeting her neighbors and convincing them to vote for Reyna. On election day, she circled the courtyards with a bullhorn shouting “‘Row A’ all the way!”
“I’m very happy with what Diana has done. We need to keep a person like that in office,” said Jackson. “I’ve never met an elected official in 30 years who has done more for this area than Diana has done in the past eight years.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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