Deidra Towns, the adopted sister of outgoing Assembly Member Darryl Towns, is set to run for her brother’s seat, she confirmed in an interview on Monday.
“Yes, I am intending to run when the seat becomes available,” she said.
The move is certain to heighten tensions between the Towns family—led by Rep. Edolphus Towns and his son, Darryl—and the Dilan family, led by State Sen. Martin Malave Dilan and Council Member Erik Martin Dilan.
The two families had been in negotiations about whom would get the Democratic notification to replace Darryl Towns, both in his district leader position and in his Assembly seat.
Nearly every candidate in the discussions is either a family member or has close ties to one of the two central Brooklyn dynasties.
Other possible candidates include Janitza Luna Dilan, Erik Martin Dilan’s wife, as well as Council Member Dilan’s chief of staff, Rafael Espinal. And the race for the Assembly seat is not the only contest pitting the two families against each other. Ed Towns is running for his son’s old district leader spot—but Erik Dilan is also interested, if he does not run for Assembly.
Darryl Towns had originally been supportive of the idea of Erik Dilan running to replace him in the Assembly.
Sen. Martin Dilan expressed dismay at Deidra Towns’ decision to run for the Assembly seat, saying this represented a breakdown in the negotiations between the two families.
“The congressman is in discussions with us in respect to a district leader position and independent of that, it seems he wants his daughter to be an Assembly member, his son to be a commissioner,” Dilan said. “This appears to leave no room for anyone else to grow.”
The Dilan family ostensibly controls the county committee process that will ultimately determine who gets the Democratic nomination for the Assembly seat, so Deidra Towns will likely have to petition on the ballot and run as an independent candidate.
But Deidra Towns would likely pull back if Erik Dilan runs for the seat, which would allow the Towns faction to put up a candidate for his Council seat.
Council Member Dilan is said by multiple sources to be likely to ultimately take a pass and allow his wife or his chief of staff to run.
Martin Dilan said Monday afternoon that a decision would likely be made Monday evening about who would run from the Dilan faction. He did not return subsequent phone calls seeking comment.
Many insiders see Espinal as the favorite since Janitza Luna Dilan has two young children and is said to be reluctant to go to Albany.
In an interview, Ed Towns somewhat jokingly suggested two possible names for the independent line that his daughter will run on: Save Our Children or the Rent’s Too Damn High, and the Gas Too.
Towns disputed the idea put forward by the Dilans that a Hispanic aligned with the Dilans should be elected to represent a district with a growing Hispanic population.
After all, Towns noted, his daughter is actually Hispanic—she was born in the Dominican Republic and adopted by Towns at six weeks old.
Towns said he believes his daughter could pull out an uphill victory. The family has very high name recognition in the district and several independent candidates have won past special elections.
He reiterated that he was fine with Erik Martin Dilan running for the Assembly seat, but would oppose any other Dilan-backed candidate.