City Council member Rafael Espinal (center) getting a haircut at Astor Place Hairstylists during his Party at the Barbershop, 2/16/19. (Photos: Nick McManus)
You might say he’s a buzzworthy candidate.
City Council member Rafael Espinal hyped his bid for Public Advocate with a dance party at a barbershop on Saturday. Astor Place Hairstylists hosted the “Party at the Barbershop” in its spacious basement housing 40 stylists. “Rafael used to get his haircut here as kid,” said painter Michael Saviello, longtime manager of the 71-year-old Village institution. “It’s an honor to have him back here.”
Espinal, whose district includes parts of Bushwick and other Brooklyn neighborhoods, kept up the party by getting a haircut himself and dancing with his friends and volunteers. With the special election coming up next week on the 26th, he paused the music momentarily to advocate for a more “livable city” with “more affordable housing and better services for all.” After gathering his attendees for our group photo, he gave the room back to DJs Udon Lipsmack and Mickey Perez before sharing free drinks with the 21-and-over crowd.
Party attendees at the conclusion of Espinal’s brief speech.
The special election, which will not a have a primary to whittle down the 18 candidates, is exciting for Espinal as he hopes to be not only the city’s youngest Public Advocate but its first Latino one as well. When I asked his citywide field director, Candice Fortin, what set him apart, she told me, “Rafael’s the most innovative in the pack, especially with regards to plastic waste and adding green tops to area buildings.” Espinal also led efforts to repeal the city’s cabaret law and create an Office of Nightlife.
Astor Place Hairstylists manager Michael Saviello (2nd right) with Rafael Espinal and friends.