Just days after Rafael Espinal said “more details to follow” regarding his future, he dropped the news that he is resigning from the City Council.
Espinal, whose last term was set to end in 2021, will instead lead the 500,000-member Freelancers Union, which is based in Brooklyn. He begins his new job on March 2.
District 37, which spans Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York and parts of Ocean Hill and Brownsville, will now have a special election within 80 days. The winner of that race will serve in the City Council for the remainder of the term.
In the meantime, the City Council speaker’s office will help handle constituent duties as the race to replace Espinal begins.
Espinal dropped out of the Brooklyn borough president’s race abruptly this month, and now we know why.
The ex-lawmaker got a lot done in his six years in office, including passing legislation to repeal the city’s Cabaret Law, establish the city’s new Office of Nightlife, and support green roofs and urban farming.
He was a co-sponsor of the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” which extends protections against harassment and discrimination to independent workers. That bill was passed in 2019.
Espinal made news last week by saying term-limited council members are “lame ducks.” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson agreed, but noted that being a lame duck doesn’t mean being unproductive.
More than three dozen seats in the City Council will be up for grabs in 2021, making it an interesting election year. The mayor and comptroller positions will also see turnover.
Speaking of the mayor, de Blasio praised Espinal on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” on Monday night by calling him a “great legislator,” citing his work on the Cabaret Law and Nightlife Office. He said working for the Freelancers Union will mean having a national impact.
“I don’t think that’s a bad outcome,” the mayor said. “I think that means he’s applying his skills in a really good way, but in another venue.”
Could Espinal return to public service? It’s possible. He didn’t leave the door closed for future opportunities, according to reports.