Plumber takes on first-term progressive in Brooklyn Senate District

Sen. Julia Salazar speaks at a housing rally in the New York State Capitol. Photo courtesy of the New York State Senate.

First-term state Senator Julia Salazar is up for reelection on Tuesday, facing a Brooklyn plumber who is pushing for major reforms to the New York City Housing Authority.

Salzar is the first-term incumbent for Senate District 18, which encompasses the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and includes parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York.

In 2018, she ran unopposed in the general election after beating Sen. Martin Dilan in the primary. In this year’s Democratic primary, she beat challenger Andy Marte, winning 86.7 percent of the vote.

Salazar was the youngest female to ever be elected to the New York State Senate.

The 18th Senate District is made up of mostly Democrat voters: 150,750 voters are active Democrats compared to 8,439 active Republicans and 31,708 are independent voters. The racial demographic of the district is 49 percent Hispanic, 23 percent White, 20 percent Black and 6 percent Asian.

Salazar was born in Miami to an immigrant family from Colombia, attending public schools and bagging groceries since she was 14 to make ends meet. She attended Columbia University, supporting herself by working as a nanny, but did not earn a degree as was reported by the New York Times

Salazar says she is a strong supporter of tenant rights, criminal justice reform, equal protection for women and immigration justice.  In 2019, Senator Salazar introduced the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, mandating that insurance companies cover all FDA approved contraceptive drugs, devices and products for women.  

She also co-chaired the 2019 Joint Legislative Hearings on Sexual Harassment that led to changes to the state’s Human Rights Law.

Since she took office in 2019, she has progressed through the ranks of the Democratic Party, gaining the support of well-known Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. Salazar is a member of the Working Families Party of New York,  pushing for progressive ideas such as higher taxes on the rich, raising the minimum wage, healthcare, jobs, universal paid sick leave and energy and environmental reform. 

On her campaign website, she has advocated for tenants who have lost their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and supported the New York Health Act to provide free healthcare for all New Yorkers. She has also fought for the repeal of 50-a, a section of the law that kept records of police misconduct hidden from the public. She also supported other police reforms like the Right to Know Act, which require police officers to identify themselves before they interact with the public.

Her opponent on the ballot is Daniel Christmann, representing the New Moderate Party, which he founded. Christmann is a first-time candidate with no formal political or campaigning experience. 

Christmann accepted an interview with the Legislative Gazette and spoke about many issues facing this district in North Brooklyn. His biggest concern is New York City’s housing crisis. He said there is an “absurd” amount of mortgage debt facing homeowners as well as pointing out flaws of the city’s affordable housing programs, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), specifically. 

“What we have is income affordable housing where in order for you to live in affordable housing, you have to audit your income each month. That is not affordable; that is a nanny state,” Christmann said. He also spoke about NYCHA saying “We have a lot of projects in North Brooklyn’s District 18. NYCHA is dilapidated and the people living there have to pay a third of their income to rent for their full entire lives without ever getting a chance to own.” 

Christmann criticized Salazar for not debating him and recognizing his candidacy on the ballot as well as being out of touch with her own constituency saying, “The biggest issue that, not only do I have with [Salazar], but also the constituency has with her, is she does not make herself available for conversation, ever.” 


He also claims that she and her office are not fully addressing the needs of the community, but rather are focused only on their own political agenda.

In addition to a radical transformation of the city’s housing program, Christmann advocates for an end to the war on drugs, permitting the sale of marijuana and a halt to building any new jails. His campaign site also notes he is in favor of GMO labeling on foods and food packaging and promoting regional and local agriculture.

His other campaign issues include ending interest on student loans and supporting “low-tech” initiatives for climate change, including tax credits for activities such as composting.

Christmann has been campaigning by “hitting the streets” and interacting with locals, especially those living in housing projects on his Instagram account, @dannyforsenate. He has also requested a debate with his opponent, but Salazar has denied the request.