Austin Shafran was joined by Congressman Gregory Meeks and State Senator John Liu outside the Bayside Long Island Railroad station last week. Both announced they were supporting Shafran’s bid for City Council.
“Having known Austin and his family for years and worked with him inside and outside of government, I know that he has the right experience and deep motivation to deliver for our communities in the City Council,” Liu said.
“We’ve seen what happens when certain power hungry politicians pull a bait-and-switch on voters,” he added. “And that’s why it’s important we elect Austin Shafran as the real and reliable Democrat that Northeast Queens deserves.”
The “power hungry politician” Liu is likely referring to is Shafran’s opponent, former state senator Tony Avella, who held the same northeast Queens City Council post from 2001 to 2009.
In 2014, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of renegade Democratic state senators in Albany who allied themselves with Republicans.
Avella and his colleagues dissolved the IDC in April of 2018, but the four years they caucused with Republicans was a major issue when Liu challenged Avella for the seat later that year.
Liu would eventually go on to win the Democratic Primary and eventually the post.
In addition to Avella, the other Democratic candidates in the race include Adriana Aviles, Francis Spangenberg, Richard Lee and Nabaraj KC.
Liu joins the Queens Democratic Party, several of the city’s largest labor unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU and District Council 37, and others in supporting Shafran’s campaign.
“John Liu is a force of nature, one of the most energetic and effective public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Shafran said. “As proud as I am to have his support in this campaign, I am even more honored to call him my friend and mentor.”
Meeks said Shafran feels the need to serve.
“Some people run for office because it’s about them,” he said. “Austin feels an obligation to give the people the voice then deserve and have earned.”
Shafran said he was just an “ordinary” guy who grew up in Bayside and still calls it home, and is focused on day-to-day concerns like improving education and increasing services for seniors.
“But I guess the ordinary things we do can be extraordinary in these trying moments,” he said. “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they come together to make their communities a better place.”
The Democratic Primary will be held on June 22. Early voting begins on June 12.