While final votes still ended to be counted, last week’s election will likely mean mixed results for Latino candidates running for borough president: Councilman Antonio Reynoso, of Dominican descent, is ahead in Brooklyn, while Councilwoman Vannesa Gibson is leading to lead to lead the Bronx.
This article was originally reported and published in Spanish by El Diario on June 23, 2021. It was translated by Carlos Rodriguez and has been updated and lightly edited for clarity.
If some of the preliminary results for the Democratic and Republican primaries in New York City are confirmed, two crucial news about Latino leadership across the five boroughs deserve to be highlighted: It appears that the Bronx borough president’s seat, held by Ruben Díaz Jr., of Puerto Rican descent, for 12 years, will be occupied by Councilwoman Vannesa Gibson, who is African-American. On the other hand, in Brooklyn the numbers are favoring Councilman Antonio Reynoso, of Dominican descent.
Councilman Reynoso, 38, has represented Brooklyn’s 34th District for eight years, and is leading the borough president’s race with 28 percent of votes, followed by Councilman Robert Cornegy (19 percent) and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (17 percent.)
“I feel very honored for the trust our voters have put in me, for the clear advantage we see in the first round. For two years, we’ve built a broad and diverse coalition, and we grew our support by talking about the issues that matter to Brooklyn’s working families,” the council member said in a statement on Wednesday.
Despite his favorable numbers, the candidate said that he will wait until each vote is counted.
“I am confident that our lead will grow, I will win, and then we will begin the hard work of rebuilding a fairer, stronger Brooklyn for all of us,” said Reynoso, who would replace mayoral frontrunner Eric Adams as the leader of New York City’s most populous borough.
The politician born to Dominican parents grew up in the poorer neighborhoods of Brooklyn and went on to become one of City Council’s youngest legislators. His victory would carry a “very powerful” significance to the Big Apple’s emerging Latino leadership.
“We are talking about a district that does not have a Latino majority,” said Luis Macías, a community leader in Sunset Park. “That means that he has been able to connect with a mostly white and African-American electorate, because he knew how to communicate a project, not a racial identity. Winning a position in Upper Manhattan or The Bronx is an option for a Latino, but until now that was not the case in Brooklyn.”
In The Bronx, the birthplace of salsa music, the story is different. More than 53 percent of the population identifies itself as Hispanic, and until now the borough’s presidency had been a natural seat for Latino leaders.
Councilwoman Gibson is set to take the Democratic vote there with 39 percent over her rival Fernando Cabrera, of Puerto Rican descent, who has received 34 percent of the vote. In a distant third place, with 14 percent, is Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernández, born to Colombian and Cuban parents.
If Gibson continues to outdo her running mates, she will become the first African-American woman to occupy the seat. Rubén Diaz Jr. remained in the position for three consecutive terms.