To the editor:
I am an Australian-born registered nurse living in the 11th council district in the Bronx. The fact that voting is compulsory in Australia has no doubt influenced my drive to participate in all local, midterm and general elections — with the recent March 23 special election, and the upcoming June 22 primary election being no exception.
Last February, while strolling through Reservoir Oval in Norwood, I was introduced to city council candidate Abigail Martin. She quickly emphasized her allegiance to the “anti-establishment” movement, and pointed to Eric Dinowitz as the one who must be toppled. She told me how the movement was intent on “bringing down the old guard” and stamping on the “Bronx political machine” — of which she claimed Eric was “entrenched.”
According to Martin, Dinowitz’s prominence in the race for city council was the product of nepotism and string-pulling. There was no mention of Eric’s service to the Bronx as a special education teacher — spanning more than a decade — nor of his commitment and service to Bronx senior citizens.
It was not just the sensationalism and emotionalism of Martin’s narrative that made me feel uneasy, it was the utter denial that there was anything good about Eric Dinowitz.
Repeated suggestions by the “anti-establishment” faction that Eric is a member of the “old boys club” is a seeming attempt to build a narrative that Eric surrounds himself with wealthy white guys, and does not care about Bronx minorities and people of color. This is at sharp odds with the fact that Eric’s entire adult life has been committed to serving those who make up the heart of the Bronx’s cultural, ethnic and socio-economic dynamic.
The recipients of Eric’s service in the role of special education teacher as well as in his role as chair of Community Board 8’s aging committee, have overwhelmingly been minorities and people of color.
Eric’s most resounding endorsements have come from Bronx legends and notables in the ilk of Ritchie Torres, Jamaal Bailey, Ruben Diaz Jr., Chantel Jackson, Adriano Espaillat and Kevin Riley.
At a public rally in Riverdale on May 8, Ritchie Torres made it resoundingly clear that his endorsement of Eric Dinowitz for city council is based on an impressive legacy of action and results.
In Eric’s first 13 days as a newly elected councilman, he has voted to ban the city from using certain pesticides, voted to make it easier for the public to view complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, voted to allow city council staff members to form a union, voted to prohibit vehicles on boardwalks, and hired constituent service staff members.
Eric’s most recent endeavor has been to successfully lead the push in legislating for free legal services for tenants who are subject to eviction proceedings.
Having served through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in an acute hospital environment, I sought solace in compassionate, focused and practical leadership, and this is the kind of leadership that I expect in my civic leaders. Demonizing one’s opponents through vilification and personal attack does not encourage the rational examination of ideas, and subverts the democratic process.
Eric’s response to mudslinging has been to resist succumbing to tit for tat, and instead to remain positive, focused, and on task.
I will be voting for Eric Dinowitz on June 22.