Greenpoint Gazette

On the Candidates: Diana Reyna

BY Juliet Linderman

It’s not easy being Diana Reyna. As if the late summer months weren’t busy enough for city council candidates all over the five boroughs, scrambling to raise funds, hand out literature, and rack up as many votes as possible before primary day drops on September 15. But Reyna’s got to work twice as hard as everyone else: Not only is she in full campaign mode—knocking on doors and shaking hands—she also serves as the district’s current councilwoman and as the summer marches into fall, and into political season by proxy, Reyna’s busier than ever.
“It’s crazy in here!” Reyna says, a warm, broad smile stretched across her face. Though, after eight years of serving on the city council in the 34th district, she’s cool as a cucumber.
“Life experience has a way of reminding you of issues that we have to focus in on,” Reyna said.
Growing up in Southside Williamsburg and having represented the 34th district for the last eight years, there is little about the district that Reyna doesn’t know about. A supporter of responsible development and the preservation of affordable housing, Reyna has used her influence in the city council to push for stricter legislation regarding everything from affordable housing and illegal conversions, to protecting the industrial landscape that is so essential to the local economy in Greenpoint/Williamsburg to providing more translation services for community members struggling to learn English.
Reyna began her political career as an intern in Assemblyman Vito Lopez office, shortly after graduating from nursing school.
“I loved the work—I was invigorated by the opportunity to assist people and advocate on their behalf, and actually see results come about, organizing to empower people to participate,” Reyna said of her first impressions of working in politics. “Any issue we were tackling, whether it was a power plant or organizing an immigration citizenship drive, we were empowered through partnerships and community participation.”
For four years, Reyna has been chair of the Rules, Privileges and Elections committee, a post she feels truly reflects her interest and investment in government reform and transparency at all levels.
“There’s nothing worse than government and status quo policy doesn’t function. What is good in 1970 may not be good in 2001, and I want to reflect and absorb the changes in our own community, and represent those changes in city hall. “
In addition to rallying for affordable housing and support for the school system, translation services and the preservation of industrial and manufacturing job opportunities in the neighborhood, Reyna is in staunch opposition to the Broadaway Triangle rezoning, and views the issue as a problem of community exclusion—an issue about which she is extremely passionate.
“We have to take community proposals more seriously,” Reyna said. “To totally disregard a community’s plan is not a good way to start development. Who better to plan a community than the community in question? Not just fortifying infrastructure but having extensive oversight to make sure that we hold government accountable for what has been promised.”
If elected for a third term, Reyna will advocate for the school system, affordable housing and community inclusion on all fronts.
“I find myself trying to repair and challenge a system that is failing,” Reyna said, of both the public housing and school systems. “You translate community concerns into city hall and you then have the ability to challenge the system, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

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