The people have spoken: Antonio Reynoso, who served as the City Council representative for North Brooklyn’s 34th District in his previous role, will succeed Eric Adams as Brooklyn borough president.
Reynoso, a south side Williamsburg native and organizer-turned-elected-official, beat out 12 other candidates in the June primaries after 11 rounds of ranked-choice voting to become the Democratic nominee. In the race for borough president, he won (by a landslide) against Shanduke McPhatter, an activist and Voices for Change candidate, Republican Menachem M. Raitport and Anthony T. Jones, who ran under the Rent is 2 Damn High party.
As the two-term 34th District City Council member, Reynoso focused on quality of life issues throughout Bushwick, Ridgewood and Williamsburg, serving as Sanitation Committee chair and successfully championing legislation concerning waste in overburdened districts, policing, tenant safety and more.
The North Brooklyn progressive spoke with Bushwick Daily to lay out his agenda as the borough’s new leader.
Reynoso, a first-generation American and son of Dominican immigrants, brought an organizer’s spirit to the New York City Council, pushing action on issues affecting the day-to-day lives of his constituents.
“I voted my conscience, my heart was in everything I did,” he told Bushwick Daily.
As an organizer: Reynoso has worked for Catholic Charities, founded the mentorship program Brothers on a New Direction (BOND), secured union protection for early childhood educators with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and cut his teeth in political organizing under former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna.
“When I came out of college and started working for ACORN, that was a very special time. My job was organizing childcare providers to be part of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. There was almost no dignity in the work they were doing. They were treated like glorified babysitters instead of what we thought they were, which was early childhood educators. The childcare providers, who are mothers that take care of kids in their homes, became part of the union, they got better health benefits, pension options and professional development opportunities. That was the first job I ever had, and it taught me how to organize.”
As 34th District Representative: The North Brooklyn rep and two-time Sanitation Committee chairman sponsored legislation to limit the amount of trash handled by overburdened districts throughout the city, implementing a commercial waste zoning system that placed labor and sustainability standards on the city’s unchecked private industrial carting industry. It’s the most significant reform to the city’s waste management system since a special commission sought to remove criminal enterprise from the industry more than 20 years ago.
In addition to waste equity legislation, Reynoso’s record reflects leadership in efforts to tackle socio-economic and racial issues, land use and transportation alternatives. He touts the passage of the Right to Know Act, which makes it a requirement for NYPD officers to carry business cards and inform civilians of their right to refuse a consent search. He was also a key player on the Tenant Safety Act, which criminalized the use of construction to harass tenants.
“North Brooklyn has 40% of the city’s trash. We were able to reduce the amount of tonnage in North Brooklyn by almost 50%. We were also able to help communities in southeast Queens and the South Bronx, which have the highest asthma rates and a significant amount of trash, reduce their tonnage 33%. So citywide, we reduced trash significantly in overburdened communities with high asthma rates — it was a very proud moment.”
Looking toward his new responsibilities as Brooklyn borough president, Reynoso said he plans to continue advocating for environmental justice, comprehensive planning for Brooklyn and protections for tenants and underserved people.
“I want to be a gracious successor to Eric Adams. I think people are going to be really surprised with the creative things that are going to come out from us,” he said.
In terms of new items, he hopes to make Brooklyn the safest place for Black women to have babies. In New York City, Black women are about eight to 12 times more likely to suffer bad outcomes and death during childbirth compared to their white counterparts. Reynoso, a father to two young boys, wants to address that by equipping public hospitals with state-of-the-art birthing centers, legitimizing midwives and creating a committee for pre-, during- and post-pregnancy work.
“We’re going to invest heavily. It’s going to be a top agenda item for the first year and my entire time in Borough Hall. But the first year, all resources are going to go into making sure that we start building infrastructure to bring that number down long term.”
Reynoso also has his sights set on advancing rezoning plans that address equity and infrastructure in low-income communities. While he understands the importance of expanding development, he stressed the urgency of separating infrastructure priorities from expansion, especially in the wake of increasing crises due to extreme weather.
“We want to empower community boards to dictate what their communities look like in 10 years,” he said. “Past mayors over developed, and poor communities suffering with poor infrastructure are not going to see improvement in quality of life without rezoning.”
More information on how Antonio Reynoso plans to govern as Brooklyn Borough President is available here.
Featured image: Jackson Schroeder
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