Photo: The graffiti sprayed on the offices of incumbent State Senator Martin Dilan. Credit: Hannah Grossman.

By Hannah Grossman


It was a sign of discontent with an incumbent. But it was more than that. It was a sign of a political transformation taking place around New York City.

On Election Day eve, State Senator Martin Dilan’s Brooklyn office was spray painted in an apparent vandalizing incident.

Martin Dilan currently represents a district that includes Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, Ocean Hill, and Brownsville. He was running against a Democratic Socialist candidate, Julia Salazar. Salazar, an exceptionally controversial newcomer, soared to victory against Dilan, in what one political consultant called a new “wave” that swept a number of New York City incumbent senators out of office.

It was a wave election,” said Bob Liff, a consultant with the longtime political adviser George Arzt. “He (Dilan) got more votes than he ever got in a primary, but he lost the election. It was a wave.”

Liff added, “(Senator Jesse) Hamilton went down. (Senator Jose) Peralta went down. It looks like (Senator Jeffrey) Klein lost. It’s a wave.”

Regarding the graffiti spray on the metal covering over Dilan’s office, the message was clear: Spray painted in black letters were the words, “Homeless kids want Dilan out.” Tucked into his office window, which is located at 3215 Fulton Street, was a campaign card from the Salazar campaign. As part of her campaign, Salazar promised to end homelessness by fighting evictions and stopping gentrification.

Dilan and his staff were not immediately aware about the vandalizing because their office was closed for Election Day. “It sure wasn’t there yesterday,” said a volunteer canvassing on Richmond Street.

“Our campaign had nothing to do with this,” Salazar’s campaign manager, Michael Kinnucan, said. Kinnucan said that he first found out about the vandalizing on Twitter, and he said he had been conversing with Salazar about the incident. “Julia deplores that this happened. We do not want the support of anyone who would do this thing,” he said.

Following this campaign, Salazar said in a statement, “I have no idea who is responsible for this disturbing incident.”

Salazar has been exceptionally controversial. She has been accused of lying about being an immigrant, about graduating from Columbia University, and about her religion.

“I don’t think voters will judge her by whether she is an immigrant or not, but they will judge her for her fanciful creations. They do care if she lies,” said Liff.

“Why would she do that?” Erick Olsen, 65, said, as he sat eating Baskin Robbins Ice Cream a few blocks from Dilan’s office. The Cyprus Hills resident had just voted for Salazar and was at one point confident in his decision. “I didn’t have time to check the facts,” Olsen said.

Asked if he would have changed his vote if he knew Salazar may have lied when he casted his ballot, Olsen said he still wouldn’t have voted for Dilan. “I would have written someone in as my own form of protest,” he said. “I don’t like politicians who lie. It’s why I hate Trump.”