Beyond the Ballot: Examining Bushwick’s Local Candidates and Their Policies

In the upcoming elections, Bushwick residents will see several familiar faces on the ballot as local incumbents run largely unopposed. Maritza Davila and Erik Dilan, both Democrat incumbents for New York State Assembly Districts 53 and 54, respectively, face no challengers in the general election. Similarly, Julia Salazar, the incumbent for New York Senate District 18, is running unopposed after a smooth primary win on June 25.

However, the race for New York’s 7th Congressional District presents a contest for Bushwick voters. Long-time incumbent Nydia Velázquez is challenged by Republican candidate William Kregler, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary. The congressional district primary race for both Democrat and Republican candidates were canceled due to both party candidates running uncontested. This leaves the general election results on November 5 less predictable. 

Congresswoman Velázquez has been able to hold her seat successfully without trouble for over a decade and while she technically has an opponent, it would be a massive upset and surprise if Kregler were able to get even a fraction of the votes on November 5. In the 2022 general election, Nydia Velázquez (D/Working Families Party) won 81% of the vote against Republican Juan Pagan after handily beating the Democrat Paperboy Prince who primaried her that same year with 83% of the votes. This was before the recent redistricting of New York City which you can read more about here

As the upcoming general elections approach, it is essential to stay well-informed about voting options. To find your assigned Early Voting or Election Day Poll Site, visit the BOE’s Poll Site Locator. For those unable to vote in person, apply for an absentee ballot

Meet the Candidates:

Julia Salazar – New York Senate District 18

Website: Senator Julia Salazar |

Twitter/X Account: @SalazarSenate

Julia Salazar, the incumbent for New York Senate District 18, is running unopposed after a smooth primary win on June 25. Born in Miami, Florida, Salazar moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where she became deeply involved in activism and advocacy. She first gained attention for her work on housing rights and criminal justice reform – issues that have resonated strongly in a highly progressive Bushwick and the broader district.

Since her election to the State Senate in 2018, Salazar has been a vocal advocate for tenant rights, affordable housing, and social justice. Her legislative efforts include sponsoring the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which provides significant protections for renters like limiting rent increases and strengthening eviction protections. Salazar has also been a proponent of the “Good Cause Eviction” bill, aiming to prevent arbitrary evictions and ensure that tenants have the right to a lease renewal under fair terms.

In addition to housing, Salazar has focused on healthcare reform, criminal justice, and workers’ rights. She has supported legislation to establish a single-payer healthcare system in New York, ensuring comprehensive healthcare coverage for all residents. Her commitment to criminal justice reform includes advocating for the decriminalization of sex work, the repeal of punitive drug laws, and measures to reduce mass incarceration.

Salazar’s unopposed run this election cycle underscores strong support for her within the district and the effectiveness of her advocacy on behalf of her constituents. Her policy priorities continue to align closely with the needs and concerns of Bushwick residents – from housing affordability to healthcare access and beyond. 

“I am committed to fighting for the rights of all residents in my district, regardless of political affiliation. My focus will always be on ensuring affordable housing, fair wages, and justice for all,” Salazar stated.

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Maritza Davila – New York State Assembly District 53

Website: Maritza Davila – Assembly District 53 | New York State Assembly

Twitter/X Account: @DavilaAssembly

Maritza Davila was born in Catano, Puerto Rico, and has lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn, since she was a young girl. As a single mother raising three children in Bushwick, Davila has worked to improve her surroundings for the community, particularly those facing the challenges of impoverished neighborhoods. Her tenure in the New York State Assembly includes a $250,000 funding allocation to the START Treatment & Recovery Center on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick.

“I have lived in Bushwick my entire life, and I am committed to fighting for the needs of our community. From supporting local schools to advocating for affordable housing, my focus is on making Bushwick a better place for all residents,” Davila said.

Assemblywoman Davila has a legislative portfolio focused on public assistance, community support, and social justice. Some of her initiatives include advocating for community land trusts (A01894), promoting motorcycle awareness on state highways (A01987), regulating buyout agreements in rent-regulated apartments (A02020), and enhancing parole eligibility for incarcerated individuals over fifty-five (A02035). Her efforts also include providing resources for opioid reversal agents in schools (A02114) and ensuring video communication access for patients during restricted visitor access periods (A02117).

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Erik Dilan – New York State Assembly District 54


X (Twitter): @edilan37

Erik Martin Dilan, a lifelong resident of North Brooklyn, was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Dilan is currently serving his fourth term in the New York State Assembly, representing the 54th district, which includes parts of Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, and East New York.

“Bushwick is home, and my work in the Assembly is dedicated to addressing the real issues that affect our neighbors every day. Affordable housing, economic opportunities, and public safety are at the forefront of my agenda,” Dilan emphasized.

Before his tenure in the State Assembly, Dilan served for 12 years on the New York City Council, where he chaired the Housing & Building Committee and was a key member of the budget negotiating team. His legislative work includes advocating for Bushwick developers, supporting cultural organizations, and championing various community initiatives. In the Assembly, Dilan has sponsored legislation such as providing real property tax abatements for rent-regulated properties (A02389), creating the New York State Entrepreneurial Training Act (A02431), and establishing tax credits for volunteers (A02658). His continued focus is on addressing housing issues, supporting economic development, and improving public safety.

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Nydia Velázquez – U.S. House of Representatives, New York’s 7th Congressional District

Website: @NydiaVelazquez

Nydia Velázquez has been the representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 3, 2013. Her current term ends on January 3, 2025. Velázquez is running for re-election in the general election on November 5, with her Democratic and Working Families Party primary canceled due to running uncontested.

Previously, Velázquez represented New York’s 12th Congressional District from 1993 to 2013, making history as the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House. She served as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus from 2008 to 2011. Before her congressional career, Velázquez was a professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao and at New York’s Hunter College.

“My work in Congress has always been about ensuring that our community has access to the resources and opportunities we deserve. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I am committed to continuing this fight for all of us,” Velázquez said.

Congresswoman Velázquez holds influential positions in Congress, demonstrating her extensive involvement and leadership across various committees and caucuses. She serves as the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee and is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, where she participates in the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit as well as the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. 

Additionally, she is an active member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, contributing to the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs. Her work extends to various caucuses and task forces, including  the Congressional Progressive, Congressional Asian American Pacific, Democratic, Women’s Issues, and Urban Caucuses.

 Key Policies and Campaign Promises

– Healthcare: Velázquez has consistently opposed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, advocating for the law’s protections for patients with preexisting conditions. She supports efforts to secure access to insurance coverage and affordable healthcare for all Americans. In May 2024, she announced grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support health centers in Brooklyn and Queens.

– Housing: Velázquez is committed to ensuring affordable and accessible housing for New York City residents. She advocates for public housing residents and supports initiatives to preserve and revitalize government-owned properties. In March 2023, she introduced the Landlord Accountability Act to protect tenants, particularly those in the Section 8 program, from landlord abuses.

– Economy: Velázquez supports establishing a living wage, strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit, and improving workers’ leverage for fair wages and safe working conditions. She has worked on revitalizing environmentally damaged areas and promoting economic development in her district. In May 2024, she urged financial regulators to prohibit compensation arrangements that encourage reckless decision-making by executives of large financial institutions.

– Puerto Rico: Velázquez has a strong connection to Puerto Rico, advocating for the island’s needs since she became the first Puerto Rican woman in the U.S. House. In January 2024, she called on the Department of Health and Human Services to improve healthcare for seniors in Puerto Rico and introduced a bipartisan bill in December 2023 to require FEMA to address recovery challenges in U.S. territories.

– Small Business: As Chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, Velázquez supports initiatives to limit the impact of rising energy costs and regulatory burdens on small businesses. She has introduced various bills to support entrepreneurs, including the CLAIM Act in April 2023 to protect insurers dealing with cannabis companies and the Small Business Financing Disclosure Act in June 2023.

– Climate Change and Environment: Velázquez has opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal due to environmental concerns. She supports the Green New Deal and policies that promote cleaner energy sources. Locally, she has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Superfund sites in New York and secured federal resources for flood and storm resiliency projects.

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William Kregler: Challenger for U.S. House of Representatives, New York’s 7th Congressional District

Website: Kregler for Congress

William Kregler is the Republican candidate running for New York’s 7th Congressional District in the upcoming election. Kregler is focused on addressing issues related to immigration, the economy, crime, and infrastructure. His campaign emphasizes a strong stance on border security, economic reform, crime reduction, and infrastructure improvement.

“Our district needs new leadership that will take a strong stance on issues like immigration and crime. I am running to bring real change to our community, focusing on policies that will protect our residents and support our economy,” Kregler explained.

 Key Policies and Campaign Promises

– Immigration: Kregler advocates for a stringent immigration policy, proposing to close the U.S. border for ten years. He plans to increase the number of border agents and judges and to expedite deportations to manage immigration more effectively.

– Economy: Kregler’s economic policies include reducing the tax burden on the working class and eliminating what he describes as the surveillance state. He also aims to remove congestion pricing and additional speed cameras in communities, arguing these measures are punitive to residents.

– Crime: Kregler’s approach to combating gun violence includes implementing a mandatory two-year minimum sentence for transporting a lost or stolen gun across state lines. He believes this measure will help reduce illegal gun trafficking and associated violence.

– Infrastructure: Kregler plans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure by securing federal funding for roads, bridges, and rail systems. He emphasizes the need for significant investments to improve the country’s infrastructure and enhance public safety and efficiency.

Voter Sentiment

Voter sentiment in Bushwick is shaped by both the local and broader political landscape. The unopposed races for State Assembly and Senate may lead to a sense of inevitability among voters, potentially dampening enthusiasm and participation. However, the contested race for New York’s 7th Congressional District between Velázquez and Kregler offers a point of engagement. Velázquez’s long tenure and track record of advocating for affordable housing, healthcare, and economic development contrast sharply with Kregler’s focus on stringent immigration policies and tax reduction. This race provides voters with a clear choice between continuity and change, potentially mobilizing those with strong opinions on these issues. The outcome of this race could significantly influence voter sentiment, either reinforcing support for established leaders or signaling a desire for new approaches to persistent challenges in the district.

This story was produced as part of the 2024 Elections Reporting Mentorship, organized by the Center for Community Media and funded by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

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