Public service is important, and that's exactly why I'm running


Little did I know when I volunteered for the McGovern for President campaign in 1972 as a college freshman and participated in anti-war demonstrations, that I would continue to be involved in such political action decades later.

I didn’t work on political campaigns back then because I thought of running for office. When I joined the reform Democratic club on Kingsbridge Road — the FDR Independent Democratic Club — it was because I wanted to continue to work to elect good people to office who would fight for peace, and who would stand up not only to Republicans, but to the Bronx Democratic machine as well.

I not only volunteered my time for many liberal, reform Democratic candidates, but also for neighborhood issues. I was on the board of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality in the 1970s, and also worked on housing and rent issues in the neighborhood. Even after I was elected Democratic district leader in 1986, I continued to be outspoken against the party machine, and for reforms of the Bronx Democratic Party.

That year, at the height of the corruption scandals in the city, I was the first Democratic district leader to demand the resignation of the Bronx Democratic County leader, who was accused in that scandal.

I was elected to the Assembly in 1994, running against the Bronx Democratic organization, and I have always remained a strong voice for reform and independence as a member of the Assembly. In 2008, I was a leader of the Rainbow Rebellion in the Bronx, along with Carl Heastie and Ruben Diaz Jr., where we formed a diverse coalition representing every corner of the Bronx that succeeded in overthrowing the Democratic leadership in the Bronx.

The result is a stronger, more unified and more open Democratic Party in the Bronx.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to elect liberal Democrats to office, working hard on the issues facing my neighbors, and always being a voice for openness and reform. I talk about this in the context of my re-election because of a very welcome development that has taken place since the election of Trump. Many people — most of whom were not active politically before Trump’s election — are so furious at the daily outrages, that they have been politically activated.

Donald Trump has been the greatest recruiter for Democrats in memory. While I wholeheartedly welcome these new voices to join our longstanding progressive efforts, we must maintain an historical perspective of Bronx politics in recent decades to be aware of the great changes that have already quietly taken place.

For example, there has been an incredible increase in female elected officials in the Bronx since the Rainbow Rebellion. Of the civil court judges in the Bronx, 10 are women and two are men. A high percentage of state supreme court justices are women.

We elected two young and dynamic women to the Assembly this year alone, and are on the verge of electing a similarly dynamic young woman to the state senate. And the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the Bronx elected officials and judges are now second to none.

As an elected official, I am, ironically, naturally looked at as part of the “establishment,” especially by newcomers to politics. And it’s true that I’m no longer a teenager marching in Washington to impeach Richard Nixon. But even as a long-serving member of the Assembly and chair of the judiciary committee, I continue to work hard for reform, openness and inclusion.

That is why I sponsor and speak out for campaign finance reform, early voting, same-day registration, and much more. That is why I strongly support codification of Roe v. Wade, ethics reform, single-payer, rent reform, strong action on climate change, more funding for the MTA, criminal justice reform, and much more.

All of these issues have real impacts on the lives of New Yorkers. I am proud that the Assembly has led the way on these issues, and I look forward to the state senate finally taking action on them (and in order to help make that more likely, the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club has been running phone banks for Democratic state senate candidates as well as Congressional candidates in New York swing districts).

The bottom line is this: I learned very early that you can make positive change through political action and community activity. I am a lifelong Bronxite. My junior high school, high school and college are well within the Assembly district that I represent.

I love working for my community, and helping the people in it. That’s why I love my job. That’s why I am running for re-election.

Please vote for me on Nov. 6.

The author is the Assemblyman representing the 81st district. He is running for Assembly representing the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality parties, and faces Alan H. Reed, who is running on the Republican and Conservative tickets.

Jeffrey Dinowitz,