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Mon, 09.27.1954

Adriano Espaillat, Afro Dominican Politician born

Adriano Espaillat

*Adriano Espaillat was born on this date in 1954. He is an Afro Dominican American politician and community advocate.

From Santiago, Dominican Republic, Adriano D. Espaillat is the son of Melba (née Rodríguez) and Ulises Espaillat and the great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat. He describes himself as "a Latino of African descent." He graduated from Bishop Dubois High School in 1974 and earned his B.S. degree in political science at Queens College in 1978.

Espaillat served as the Manhattan Court Services Coordinator for the New York City Criminal Justice Agency. This non-profit organization provides indigent legal services and works to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention and post-sentence incarceration costs. As a state-certified conflict resolution mediator and volunteer with the Washington Heights Inwood Conflict Resolutions and Mediation Center, Espaillat helped resolve hundreds of conflicts. He later worked as Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office, an organization offering counseling and other services to families of victims of homicides and other crimes.

From 1994 to 1996, Espaillat served as the Director of Project Right Start, a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to combat substance abuse by educating the parents of preschool children. Espaillat was also an active voice on New York City Community Board 12 and President of the 34th Precinct Community Council, and he served on Governor Mario Cuomo's Dominican-American Advisory Board from 1991 to 1993. Espaillat served in the New York State Assembly from 1997 to 2010.

He chaired the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and committees on small businesses, children & families. After several assaults and murders against livery cab drivers in 2000 that left over ten dead, Espaillat passed legislation strengthening penalties for violent crimes against livery drivers and enabling their families to receive New York State Crime Victims Board funding. Livery cabs work in less affluent neighborhoods of New York that typically lack access to yellow cabs.

Also, Espaillat was a vocal advocate for tenants, consumers, veterans, immigrants, and local businesses while in the Assembly. He passed laws encouraging the construction and preservation of affordable housing, giving low-income daycare workers the right to organize and obtain health care, and sponsored measures to improve hospital translation services. He also established a higher education scholarship fund for relatives of American Airlines Flight 587 victims. Despite national Republican and conservative criticism, Espaillat strongly supported efforts in 2007 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Espaillat took legal action against power utility Con Edison after equipment failures led to a two-day blackout in Upper Manhattan in July 1999 that caused financial damage to restaurants, bodegas, and other small businesses. Con Edison subsequently agreed to invest an additional $100 million in Upper Manhattan electrical infrastructure at no cost to ratepayers. He was required to refund customers billed for expenses related to the blackout. Espaillat ran for Senate in 2010 and received more than 50% of the vote in a four-way Democratic party. In 2012, he won the Democratic Primary. In 2012, he ran in the Democratic primary for New York’s 13th Congressional District, in a crowded field that included 42-year incumbent Charles Rangel where he lost. 2014 Espaillat ran against incumbent Charlie Rangel again, losing for the second consecutive time.

Following his loss to Rangel in the Democratic primary, Espaillat announced his re-election bid for his State Senate seat, facing former City Councilman Robert Jackson, and won. 2015 Espaillat announced he would give up his State Senate seat to run for Congress again. He was running in an open seat; Rangel had announced in 2014 that he would not seek a 22nd term in 2016. He narrowly defeated his nearest challenger, state assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, with 36 percent of the vote.  He won the General Election for his seat on November 8, 2016.

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