Friday, March 27, 2009

Diaz Swings Through Riverdale

A little bit earlier today, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz dropped by the Riverdale Y with his colleague Jeffrey Dinowitz for a bit of an informal meet-and-greet. Here's some video. And excuse the lighting...that's a tough room to film in.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diaz To CFB: No Thanks

With his only opponent in the upcoming special election for borough president a poorly funded Anthony Ribustello, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz has decided to reject the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer matching funds from the City's Campaign Finance Board.

"While I support and believe in the City’s campaign finance system, New Yorkers’ best interests must come first. In these tough economic times, especially while confronted with a seemingly non-competitive race for Bronx Borough President, it is my hope that returning these funds to City taxpayers will assist in the retention of jobs and the continuation of vital services," said Diaz in a prepared statement.

He added, "My campaign for Bronx Borough President is a people-powered, grassroots effort that relies on voters and volunteers to get the message out about my candidacy. That’s why my campaign was able to gather over 18,000 signatures from registered voters in the Bronx, and that’s why I will be elected the next Bronx Borough President."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ribustello Files, "People First"

I meant to put this up the other day, but Republican actor and activist Anthony J. Ribustello has filed over 5,000 signatures for ballot access in the special election for borough president.

As this is a non-partisan election, candidates must choose their own, unique party name. Ribustello has chosen "People First."

Ribustello said that he has gotten a great response from those he has approached over the last two weeks, and that moving forward he would bring his campaign across The Bronx, attending meetings with neighborhood groups and community associations.

“People are tired of the status quo,” said Ribustello.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WFP Backs Diaz

While we cannot imagine who else they would back at this point, given how the field has cleared out during the past week, the Working Families Party made it official today and endorsed Assemblyman Ruben Diaz in the special election for borough president.

"Ruben Diaz Jr. has always been there for the people of the Bronx when they needed him, and we know we can count on him to continue that work as Borough President," said Dan Cantor, Working Families Party Executive Director. "We need to protect and expand affordable housing, improve access to quality health care, and make sure schools receive their fair share of funding. Working with Ruben, we know we can make the change we need."

--John DeSio

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Diaz Campaign Kick-Off

For the record, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz made it official yesterday, kicking off his campaign with a large group of supporters on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse.

The field has thinned significantly, which has taken a great deal of the juice out of the special election. That said, I'll have more on this a little later.

--John DeSio

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ruiz Out, Endorses Diaz

Former State Senator and City Councilman Israel Ruiz Jr. just sent over a press release announcing that he will not be a candidate in the special election for borough president, and that he is endorsing Assemblyman Ruben Diaz.

Ruiz said that he spoke to Diaz, and that he was assured the assemblyman is committed to building a better Bronx.

"Assemblyman Diaz has informed me that under his watch he will work with all concerned to bring people together under the banner of the Bronx Democratic Party," said Ruiz. "He will strive for transparency in fundraising and use of party funds by party leadership. Assemblyman Diaz is committed to hiring the best qualified individuals to work on the economic, housing, education, immigration and employment initiatives that will help the Bronx survive the severe recession we face. I believe that Diaz, Jr. is committed to working for the civil rights of all, and will speak out against any injustices."

Ruiz added, "For the Special Election I endorse Ruben Diaz, Jr., and will work for his victory"

As for his political future, Ruiz indicated that he is still planning to run for City Council against Maria Baez, and will be opening a campaign office within a month.

"Within thirty days, I will be opening a campaign headquarters and have asked for a meeting with Democratic Party Chairman Carl Heastie to discuss my willingness to help in the building of a strong, honest, progressive Democratic Party," said Ruiz. "For thirty years I have helped many elected officials obtain jobs and helped with their aspirations to become elected officials. I never asked for anything in return except that they serve their constituents diligently. Unfortunately some have not been as effective or as honest as I had hoped."

Ruiz added, "In order to ingratiate themselves with past party leaders, some individuals have gone along with a corrupt leadership and system which values blind party loyalty at the expense of honest and effective service to the people. At my political peril, I have received the ire of powerful interest that stopped my advancement within the party. I feel that my experience and commitment can serve the party well."

Reports: Diaz Petitions North of 16,000 Signatures

We don’t have official word yet, but we’re hearing that the campaign of Assemblyman Ruben Diaz has already collected more than 16,000 signatures on its nominating petitions, which is quite a number given that they only started on Monday.

Only 4,000 signatures are required to run in the special election, though candidates typically come in much higher than that to prevent challenges.

Since this is a special election, candidates cannot use traditional party labels and must come up with their own unique ballot line names. Diaz has chosen to place his campaign under the “Bronx Unity Party” banner.

We can also tell you who makes up Diaz’s committee to fill vacancies, which would decide who would take over the ballot line in the (highly unlikely) event that the assemblyman declined to run in the special election. That trio is State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz (his father) and Assembly Members Aurelia Greene and Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Diaz Reacts To Rivera News, Seabrook Still In?

After yesterday's big announcement that neither City Councilman Joel Rivera or his father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, would be entering the race for borough president, I reached out to Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, who is now the clear front-runner for the seat, for some reaction.

“I’ve always maintained that my candidacy was about the people of The Bronx, and not predicated on any other candidate," said Diaz, who added that he expected the team he has built and his support from all over the borough to lead him to victory on April 21.

Yesterday, I also reported that City Councilman Larry Seabrook had declined to run as well, confirmation of which came from Rivera spokesman Mike Nieves.

According to Liz Benjamin, Nieves might have spoken too soon. Seabrook's chief of staff Cleveland Beckett told Benjamin that his boss was still in the race and was circulating petitions.

As for challengers from other corners, Anthony Ribustello also told me this morning that the news about the Riveras was not affecting his candidacy, and that he would continue to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot.

--John DeSio

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Neither Rivera, Nor Seabrook, In Special Election

For two days a number of rumors have swirled around The Bronx regarding the fate of the candidacy of City Councilman Joel Rivera in the upcoming special election. Rumors included reports of petitions that listed the councilman's father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, as the candidate rather than his son.

Now, we have some clarity as to what's happening here in The Bronx. Mike Nieves, a spokesman for the Rivera clan, has confirmed to both myself and Bob Kappstatter of the Daily News that neither of the two Riveras, nor City Councilman Larry Seabrook, will be running for borough president.

“Neither Jose nor Joel Rivera are running for borough president, and Councilman Larry Seabrook also confirms to us that he is not running,” said Nieves. “The Riveras wish whatever candidates are in the race good luck.”

Nieves added that the Riveras' were not pushing any other candidate into the race.

"From our side, that's it," said Nieves.

--John DeSio

Monday, March 2, 2009

GOP's Ribustello In For SpecElec

Anthony J. Ribustello, actor, activist and Republican district leader from Throggs Neck, has confirmed that he will be a candidate in the upcoming special election for borough president.

Ribustello joins a field that includes Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, and possibly Councilman Larry Seabrook and

"I'm a lifelong Bronx resident, and I care about the community," said Ribustello.

Ribustello, who has been active in his community for years, said his campaign would focus on protecting services for Bronx youth and seniors, as well as preserving The Bronx as a haven for the middle class.

In addition to his political work, Ribustello is an actor, best known for his role as Dante Greco, one of Tony's top guys, on The Sopranos.

--John DeSio

We Have A Date

The mayor's office just sent over a press release announcing that April 21st will be the day the Bronx will pick a new borough president in a special election.

That means, despite the snow, the petitioning season starts now and continues for the next ten days.