Ruben Diaz Running for Congress, Bronx Voice was Right
By David Greene
City Councilman and Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., who confirmed and then unconfirmed claims last week that he was running for congress– has now tossed his signature cowboy hat into the ring and has set his sights on the seat of Congressman Jose Serrano, who recently announced he is stepping down at the end of his current term due to illness.
Diaz, who turns 76 years-old this week, announced his decision to staunch supporters who packed Maestros catering hall in Morris Park on April 14, during a meeting of the New York Hispanic Clergy Coalition– where he announced his decision in Spanish that he is running for congress.
[Tweet “I’m the opposite of Ms. Occasio, I can work with anybody.”]
At the event Diaz would officially kick off his campaign for Serrano’s seat in the 15th Congressional District. Hours after his announcement Diaz spoke candidly with the Bronx Voice during a 15 minute telephone interview, where he discussed his reasons for running and what he hopes to accomplish if elected.
Diaz said his decision had nothing to do with the opposition he faced in the City Council, including a recent call from Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who called for Diaz to resign after Diaz made anti-gay statements.
Diaz explained, “It was the announcement that Congressman Serrano made, that he will no longer serve, that he will retire after this term is finished next year. So I decided that I will take my chances. I think that the Conservatives, the people of faith… they have no voice.”
Asked if he thought he could accomplish more in Washington than in the City Council, Diaz replied, “Of course, of course.”
Diaz said he plans to go to Washington to focus on three key issues, he said, “Number One, do you know that when you purchase something with the credit card, the taxes that are supposed to go to the state, the credit card company takes what is owed to them, but instead of sending the taxes to the state, they send it to the merchant? Hoping that the merchant will send the taxes to the state, but the state is losing more than $1 billion a year to that.”
“So the state is losing money and I as a congressman can fight that.” Diaz fumed, “the credit card companies should send the taxes straight to the state and not back to the merchant.”
Diaz’ second fight is with the pharmaceutical companies, he continued, “We have our senior citizens and their prescription drugs. The same prescription drugs that you buy here from the same companies, that are so expensive, in Canada you pay three times less.”
Diaz added, “They don’t have the money and sometimes it’s a decision between buying food and paying their utilities or getting their prescription drugs.”
Diaz claimed some elected officials in Washington, “don’t care because they accept money from the pharmaceutical companies, because they are a very powerful industry.”
On the Bronx’ newest member of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Diaz stated, “I’m the opposite of Ms. Occasio, I can work with anybody. When I was in the State Senate, in 15 years I passed 15 pieces of legislation that was signed into law by the governor. I don’t think anyone has done that. I work with Democrats, I work with Republicans.”
In 2018, Diaz’ first year in the City Council, his committee passed a regulation package for ride share companies like Uber, he says, “I know how to fight and I know how to get things done.” The same committee he was later voted off after his controversial statements.
Regarding his opposition in the City Council, Diaz noted, “The City Council is controlled… and they want to quiet people, they not only did it to me, but they did it to Council member (Kalman) Yegar last week.
“The First Amendment gives us freedom of speech and freedom of expression and is under the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment was put there by our founding fathers, so people could express themselves and give their opinion in what they believe.”
Diaz continued, “People don’t like it and might feel offended… and the City Council wants to quiet people and to use their power to shut people down and that is wrong. You don’t have to like what people say, but you have to respect their right to say it.”
The third issue Diaz said he would fight is something he calls the “death incident insurance,” which he claims, “some companies when they hire people, they take out life insurance on those employees and the employees don’t even know it and then when they die, the family has to go spend money to bury their loved one, but the company gets a lot of money… so I would like to see those companies be forced to tell the people what they are doing and to help the family in case something happens.”
Diaz added, “So these three things I’m telling you, there happening and no one knows and no one is talking about it. I am full of ideas and energy and now I’m ready to go and fight these companies.”
Asked if he could work with President Donald Trump, Diaz again stated, “I can work with anybody. I’m going to go over there and represent my community, to fight for my community and to do the things that nobody has ever done.”
Asked for thoughts on Serrano, Diaz said, “Congressman Serrano has served for 30 years in Congress, now he’s sick. I’m praying for him, my church is praying for him… he’s sick and he said he’d keep working, but he doesn’t want to keep doing it and we’re praying for him. No, no, we are not good friends, we are friends. You have to understand, people have to understand this, because what I believe, because of my barrio, my beliefs, I believe some people don’t like it and some people just want to be progressive and they don’t want to be associated with a Conservative, so I work with everybody.
“People have to understand that I will not deny my barrio, I will not reject what I believe. I will say what I believe… I’m a pro Jew… I am pro charter school’s, I am for praying in schools and I am for family and traditional values.”