As people worldwide were stunned by the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Bronxites were treated to a bombshell as well.
Shocking political pundits, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., announced he would be removing his name from the mayoral race and retiring from public service at the end of his term in 2021.
Diaz, who has spent 23 years as a public servant, has served as borough president since 2009 when he filled the vacancy of former BP Adolfo Carrión, Jr. in special election. In fact, he was once the youngest elected to public office at 23-years –old.
The BP was the first Democrat to file for the mayoral race in 2018 and many envisioned big things for him, as he had the Latino vote, the backing of the Bronx Democratic Party and Governor Cuomo.
Diaz told the New York Times he is stepping back to spend time with his wife Hilda and two adult sons, Ruben Diaz, III and Ryan Isaiah Diaz.
Why would a popular leader in his mid 40s and in the prime of his political career who has revitalized the borough suddenly retire?
Well it seems after working 365 days 24/7 Diaz has realized it’s time to hang it up.
“For more than two decades, first as a member of the NYS Assembly and then as Borough President, I have devoted my life to service,” Diaz said. “I have been elected more years of my life than I have not, and it is time for a change.”
Since taking over office in 2009, the Bronx has seen over $18.9 billion in new development of all kinds including more than 45,000 new units of housing, most of it built for lower-income families.
Diaz has also helped bring significant new projects to the borough, including the East Bronx Metro North expansion, the redevelopment of the Sheridan Expressway and the reconstruction of the historic Orchard Beach Pavilion, among others.
Whoever supplants Diaz will have big shoes to fill.
“Throughout this journey, I have been honored and humbled by the support so many have shown to me,” Diaz said.