A group of citywide elected officials — including mayoral candidate and New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson — clapped their hands to the blaring music, but an enormous crowd drowned them out with chants of “Ruben, Ruben!” as the winner of the Bronx Borough President special election made his way center stage.
They were that excited at Maestro’s in the Bronx, even though a victory in the non-partisan race was expected since Bronx Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr.’s opponent Anthony Ribustello, an actor, raised little money.
The event was more exultant than political, though Diaz briefly mentioned a few key issues during his address.
“I want us to celebrate but in your celebration understand one thing — understand that while we’re here tonight celebrating that there are young men and women out there who want nothing more than to have a better chance here in the borough of the Bronx — that we need to fight for a better educational system,” he said.
“While we’re here understand that there’s a senior citizen somewhere who doesn’t know whether to pay for their rent or to pay for pharmaceuticals. Understand that tonight while there’s so much development in the borough of the Bronx that a lot of the clamor that we hear in those developments is not necessarily jackhammers, but it’s the clamor from Bronxites who want nothing more than to work at those sites. Understand that tonight, ladies and gentleman, we have to come together,” he added.
Diaz kissed the new first lady of the Bronx, his wife Hilda, and introduced his son. The family was celebrating two happy occasions that evening: his win and the birthday of his father, State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr.
Once he dismounted the stage rings of people swelled around Diaz, making the wait to greet the new borough president lengthy. Diaz embraced his long time supporters, shook hands and posed for pictures with the throngs gathered around him.
Among these were many staffers of former Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.’s staffers. Once the election is certified, Diaz has the opportunity to fill Bronx Borough Hall with his own, leaving a lot of Carrion staffers scrambling for Diaz’s attention. One observer from outside of the borough said that as the first order of business he’d make them all write detailed job descriptions.
“I bet half of them can’t do it,” he said.