Ardila pulls ahead in online poll

The Queens Ledger’s online poll is now closed and a winner has been declared.

In a four-way race for the 37th Assembly District, which encompasses the Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood communities, Democratic candidate Juan Ardila has pulled ahead as the front-runner with 63 percent of the overall vote in our poll.

Ardila is a community advocate whose experience working with The Legal Aid Society and the Department of Education, has given him the foresight to help local constituents and the wherewithal to effectively delegate the expansion of universal Pre-K programs. While he is the more progressive of the bunch, his platform focus on housing, climate and healthcare aligns with the voting populace in the district.

Brent O’Leary, who pulled an early lead in the online poll, came in second with 20 percent of the vote. O’Leary is a moderate with an extensive resume as a civic leader in Long Island City. He is running on a platform that aims to increase community policing, maintain Mayoral control of city schools and create a system that would promote home ownership over more traditional forms of affordable housing.

Jim Magee, a defense attorney with a campaign focus on wealth disparity and revising the 2019 bail reform, came in third with 10 percent of the overall vote. Magee is the more conservative of the four, who has a local support base in the Sunnyside community.

Johanna Carmona, a young attorney who previously served as a Hispanic community liaison for outgoing Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, polled just behind Magee with a 7 percent margin of the vote. A moderate like O’Leary, her campaign focuses on public safety, education and affordable housing.

With the Democratic Primary elections less than a week away, it appears Ardila is favored to win amongst the online polling community, but in the end it is up to local voters to show up at the polls on Tuesday, June 28, when they will have the opportunity to select one of the four candidates for New York State Assembly District 37.

Rochdale pays tribute to Alex Pauline

Neighborhood patriarch honored with street co-naming celebration southeast Queens

Alex Pauline, considered a father figure by many in southeast Queens, will forever be memorialized at the corner of 173rd Street and 134th Road, where new signage reads “Alex Pauline Road”.

The unveiling of “Alex Pauline Road” at the intersection of 173rd Street and 134th Road in Rochdale.

The life of Pauline, who died in November 2019, was celebrated just around the corner from where he called home in Rochdale Village, having grown up in “Circle 4” and playing basketball in South Rochdale Playground.

Remembered as a husband, father, coach, mentor and a teacher, Pauline’s family and friends paid homage to the man whose tough love and guidance helped raise a neighborhood.

“When God gives you a calling, you have to follow it,” his wife, Dolores Joseph-Pauline, said at the street co-naming event on Saturday, June 18. “I knew I had to share him with the world.”

Also known as “Coach Al,” Pauline gave back to his community in the form of teaching, working as a custodian and also serving as a basketball coach at PS80Q, his former elementary school.

A graduate of Springfield Gardens High School, he would find his love for basketball and coaching before meeting his wife at their alma mater York College.

On the day before Father’s Day, his son, Aleek, helped unveil the new sign before hosting a free basketball clinic at South Rochdale Playground in his father’s honor.

“Me and my family are truly blessed to have had Alex Joseph-Pauline as our king,” Aleek said.

The father of three also worked as a direct care counselor for the mentally challenged on the weekends, when he wasn’t busy being a public school teacher and a basketball coach during the week.

In 1988, he founded “Drug Free That’s Me,” a nonprofit that used basketball as a way to teach the youth about the negative effects of alcohol and drug use, as well as countless other life lessons taught along the way.

Friends and neighborhood residents gather to celebrate the life of Alex Pauline.

The nonprofit had participants including Shaheen Holloway, the head coach of Seton Hall University, and former NBA player Lamar Odom. Pauline also helped coach professional athletes including WNBA player Tina Charles, NBA players Danny Green, Kenny Patterson, Sundiata Gaines, and future NFL pro Kevin Ogletree.

Aleek would also be coached to a basketball career at Norfolk State University, as well as a career overseas in Europe.

In the program’s basketball tournaments, Pauline would use halftime to preach and teach about the dangers of drug abuse and crime, while offering an alternative from those very same vices.

Brian Corbett, a Rochdale native, was on hand to celebrate the life of Pauline, who he says served as a role model for himself and others while growing up in southeast Queens.

“He taught us about responsibilities and how we were looked at at the time by police as young Black cats and how to conduct ourselves,” Corbett recalled. “He kept a swear jar for when we were playing basketball. If you said a cuss, you would add to the collection and he would use it to buy shirts. He was an exemplary human being.”

Led by a performance by the Elite Marching Band of Queens, the street co-naming ceremony included remarks from Council Speaker and Rochdale native Adrienne Adams.

“What makes this community so special is the everyday people who live here and care so deeply about their neighbors, especially our seniors and our young people,” Adams said. “Rochdale village residents look out for one another and support each other in every way they can.”

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams gives the street sign to the family of the late Alex Pauline.

She continued, “One such unsung hero was Alex Pauline, who grew up in circle four and basically called Rochdale Village Hall all of his life. He served as a positive role model and father figure for children in the neighborhood and his students at PS 80.”

State Senator Leroy Comrie urged the community to “pay it forward,” in honor of Pauline.

“We have other young people in our community that need your guiding hand, that need to see you,” Comrie said. “They see your actions and they see your deeds already. Just pay it forward to them to let them know that they’re loved because we need to continue to pay it forward and nurture our young people, and to continue to provide opportunities in the spirit of Alex Pauline.”

A celebratory walk to the nearby basketball courts along the newly co-named street served as a walk down memory lane for family members and friends of Pauline.

“On a daily basis, he and I couldn’t walk from our building to the store or to our car, without him running into a young person, a parent or a colleague,” said Pauline’s wife, Dolores. “I’m glad they chose this time to recognize him.”


Drag Queens in public schools prompts Council infighting

Queens Councilwoman Vickie Paladino continues to draw criticism from local elected officials over a series of opinionated tweets directed against the “Drag Queen Story Hour” program. The new program, which according to a story published by The New York Post reportedly cost taxpayers more than $200,000 to fund, invites cross-dressing performers to read to local school children in New York City.

In her comments online, the Councilwoman refers to the program as an act of “child grooming” and “sexualization” in the schools. Paladino would later clarify her statement by claiming that it is part of the “political, social, and cultural indoctrination of impressionable young children, often without parental consent,” calling it both “unacceptable and inappropriate.”

In response, several members of the city council fired back calling her commentary “homophobic” and “hateful.”

In a recent interview with Pix11 News, City Councilman Erik Bottcher said that her comparison was completely off base. “A groomer is a child molester,” Bottcher explains. “To compare my community to child molesters is totally unacceptable.”

Paladino, however, argued that her commentary was intended to shed light on the spending priorities of the city administration, however, due to how it was presented online, was viewed by colleagues as a personal attack.

As a result, Paladino found herself in hot water, while several Democratic city officials fired back with statements of their own, condemning her over “bigoted comments” regarding the program—-which is intended to promote the acceptance of queer youth in schools—-and calling for her to be formally censored and stripped of her committee assignments.

“This type of hatred shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone, especially another elected official,” Councilwoman Lynn Schulman tweeted in response. “As a proud lesbian member of the New York City Council from Queens and a funder of Drag Queens Story Hour I am saddened and angry that a colleague would be threatened by the teaching of tolerance in our schools.”

Openly gay City Councilman Chi Ossé also fired back on Twitter, stating that as chairman of the Committee on Cultural affairs he condemns the bigoted remarks made in regards to the nonprofit program which teaches acceptance to the City’s youth.

“NYC is a safe haven where our queer community is welcomed and loved,” Ossé said in his response.

Co-chairs of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus Councilwoman Crystal Hudson and Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán also admonished the statements made by Paladino, reiterating that the program is a “wonderful, wholesome, and vital program” that invites children to see themselves as unique individuals with the right to be whoever they want. “It shows queer youth and their peers alike that each of our existence is valid — that we all belong.”

In response to the outpour of complaints against her, Paladino issued a statement on Friday, reaffirming that her stance was strictly in opposition to the use of taxpayer dollars and that her statements were not intended as a personal attack or accusation against anyone.

“At a time when there has been a dramatic increase in the crime rate in New York City and a large number of New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet by living paycheck to paycheck, I would like to make one thing very clear: I am NOT apologizing or retracting my statement against using taxpayer dollars to fund Drag Queen Story Hour in our public schools,” Paladino said in an official statement.

Paladino maintained that her stance was made on behalf of her constituents in Queens, several of whom she said are concerned over the propagation of gender confusion and adult entertainment in public schools.

Paladino added that she was appalled by the reaction of her colleagues considering the vast number of issues currently facing our city, including homelessness, housing, mental health, public safety, and food shortages.

“Let me be clear – I fully support adults making their own free decision about who they are and how to express themselves… but I do NOT condone exposing little children to inappropriate narratives that encourage gender radicalism,” Paladino said in her statement.

While this is a new program for public schools, Drag Queen Story Hour has been featured at public libraries since 2017.

Councilwoman Julie Won recently attended one of the many Drag Story Hour events at the Queens Public Library in Woodside as a show of support to the LGBTQ+ community.

“This is a wonderful program that teaches children about inclusion and the history of the LGBTQ community,” Won said in her tweet. “As long as I am in council, I will continue to support programs like DSH to build communities that are inclusive and loving to all forms of self expression.”

Paladino still feels there is still much to be discussed. In her statement, she concludes by extending the opportunity for open dialogue with any of her fellow Council members who wish to take her up on the offer.

WellLife Network brings affordable housing to Glendale

Housing for homeless, income-eligible folks

After years of planning, vying for community support, and construction, WellLife Network finally cut the ribbon on a brand new five-story affordable apartment complex in Glendale.

Dedicated to serving people across the five boroughs and Long Island with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses, WellLife Network plans to continue its mission to empower individuals to live dignified lives and achieve their goals with this new supportive mixed use apartment building.

The building, located at 80-97 Cypress Avenue, has 66 units, which are a combination of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.

Forty of these units are reserved for the homeless, while the remaining 26 units are for individuals in the community who meet low-income eligibility criteria, or 60 percent of the area median income.

Sherry Tucker, CEO of WellLife Network, is saddened by the fact that over 25,000 applications were submitted for the 26 community units, revealing how much demand there is for affordable housing in New York.

The previous property at the site of 80-97 Cypress Avenue was a community eyesore for years.

“At WellLife, we work very hard to be good neighbors, wherever we go, and we are always interested in trying to improve the areas in any way we can,” she said. “We’d love to be an asset to the neighborhood and really try to help in any way we can to make it be the very best it can be, and we always want to be a part of the community in any way possible.”

On June 9, WellLife Network commemorated the official grand opening of the building with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Local officials attended the event to compliment the project, including Ingrid Lewis-Martin, chief adviser to Mayor Eric Adams; Ahmed Tigani, deputy commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; and New York City Councilman Robert Holden.

“WellLife, in partnership with the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development has created a model mixed-housing development for some of our most vulnerable residents in need of supportive services, as well as for New Yorkers who just need good and decent affordable housing,” Lewis-Martin said. “We strongly encourage other developers to ‘honor the call’ to create affordable housing with amenities in communities that systematically have been on the fringes. Kudos to WellLife and HPD for a job well done.”

Tucker said that WellLife’s proposal to open this apartment complex was approved unanimously by Community Board 5.

Walter Sanchez, chairman of CB5’s Land Use Committee, said that the board’s decision to approve was the right thing for the neighborhood.

“We know that every area has to do their part in supportive housing, and we think this fits in very well with us, so our board voted overwhelmingly to approve the project,” he said.
WellLife also held public forums to hear the community’s concerns—many of which they took into consideration when tweaking the specs of the project, such as potential traffic congestion and excessive height.

However, some neighbors on Cypress Avenue are skeptical of what changes the new apartment complex might bring to the community, especially with widespread concerns about the nearby men’s homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue, Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center.

“We’re not happy about this; it’s going to be a mess,” one neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous, said. “That’s why my landlord is selling this house and we’re leaving.”

Another neighbor, Yaffa Tamano, said that she’s also not in favor of the project because it’s out of character for the rest of the block, and might bring unwanted change to the neighborhood.

Councilman Robert Holden, who has openly criticized the Cooper homeless shelter in the past, emphasized that WellLife’s new affordable housing project is in no way comparable to it.

“This is actually a home for people; they’re going to stay there. This is not something like a shelter where they’re transient and they come and they have problems,” Holden said.
“This place actually supports and treats them … Some have mental health issues, some are just falling on hard times, and some are coming from shelters, but they will get their own apartment, which is great.”

Tucker said that the building has various amenities and services that will significantly improve the quality of life for residents, such as 24/7 front desk coverage, on-site support services, a laundry room, gym, and a deck that offers a perfect view of the city skyline.

She noted that the site just passed a final routine HPD inspection, and families could start moving in as early as this week.

“The Cypress Avenue residence helps WellLife achieve its ongoing vision to create income-eligible, supportive, and affordable mixed-use housing developments that offer a safe and nurturing environment where all tenants feel a sense of belonging to a larger community,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Walter Sanchez is the publisher of BQE Media. His recent remarks were made in his capacity as chairman of CB 5’s Land Use Committee.

Juneteenth in Queens celebrated at Roy Wilkins Park

Juneteenth—the newest federally recognized holiday—originated on June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom for the enslaved African-American people in Texas.

More than 150 years since it began, the holiday gained national recognition in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making it the first nationally recognized holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.

For the second year in a row, the borough held its “Juneteenth in Queens” event at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, a day-long celebration including over 100 vendors on-hand and live musical performances.

Pon Di Ice, a Jamaica-based business at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

A lineup made up of The Goode Dance Project NYC, Nadia Renee, Chad Milner, Supe, Devore Dance Center, Ralph McDaniels & Friends, Neveah Flowers, Cash Sinatra, Isaac Sawyer, TGIFLY, Riflette Cheerleaders, Black Spectrum Theatre, the Bartlett Brothers and Michael Pugh performed for the liberating event on Saturday.

The day is nothing new to Sophia K-Franklin, who helped hand out free books from the vendor tent of Lena’s Library, a southeast-Queens based literary initiative that lends out books for free.

Sophia’s daughter, Lena, helps run the library, which also serves as a place of occupation for special-needs adults.

With dozens of books and magazines about Black history and prominent Black figures on display underneath their festival tent, Lena’s mother emphasized the importance of promoting literacy one book at a time.

“Don’t leave it for somebody to tell you, because they’re going to tell you their version. You read it so you can tell your own version,” K-Franklin said. “This day finally acknowledges that we were slaves and we were freed. And we have to live in a state of being free. Because you can be free and not ‘free’.”

Sophia K-Franklin highlights the importance of literacy and Black history at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

The southeast Queens mom’s message was echoed by a number of elected speakers, including Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and State Senator James Sanders Jr.

“It’s not just a day off for our kids,” Hyndman said to the crowd at Roy Wilkins park. “Let’s remember that it’s not just a day off work because there was a time when you had no days off.”

Sanders noted that even after the 1860’s, an era of sharecropping slavery was introduced until Black people were given the right to vote with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

“Since then, we’ve entered into a type of wage slavery,” Sanders said. “Now comes a time where we have to have a revolution of the mind, where we have to liberate ourselves from a type of wage slavery.”

He questioned the crowd of how much of southeast Queens is owned by the Black community.

“How many of the stores do we own? I would argue not enough,” he added.

Sponsors for the second annual event included E.W.G. Glass Recycle Corp., NHSJ American Recycling Management LLC., Resort World Casino, UPS, ELMCOR, Black Spectrum Theatre Co. Inc,. A Whole New JFK, VOYCE, NYC Parks, Dr Bronner’s, KAAGNY, Lyft, Greater Jamaica Development Corp., REBNY, EmblemHeath, HNTB, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates, Life Camp, Mercury, 100 Suits, Queens Chamber of Commerce, NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, NYSABPRL, NYC Human Rights, conEdison, NYC Vicinity District Council of Carpenters and SEQ U.P. Front.

Food vendors manned the grill at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

As a Black History major, K-Franklin also celebrates Black Solidarity Day, normally celebrated on the first Monday in November as a reminder of the collective strength of the Black community.

She acknowledged that with federal recognition of Juneteenth, it’s only natural for the commercialization of the new holiday to follow.

“You’ve got to celebrate yourself everyday,” K-Franklin said. “Don’t wait for the government or commercial media.”

It’s the celebration of culture and giving back to the community, she says, that should be prioritized before capitalizing and profiting on the day.

“We don’t need to be going shopping,” she said. “But we’re not going to get away from it because anybody will use the opportunity to make a buck, but do the right thing with it.”

“We gotta be careful we don’t get used, and the commercial takes us over. That’s what we don’t want.”

A Juneteenth flag flies at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

Vendors displayed their artwork at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

Lena’s Library is visited by the mascot of the New York Islanders, Sparky the Dragon.

A makeshift basketball hoop set up at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

New Eagle Scouts congratulated by prominent figures

From former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Pope Francis, four local Eagle Scouts were celebrated by numerous prominent figures both close to home and far away.

Massimo Accardo, Éamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran from Boy Scouts Troop 45 of Woodside recently completed all the requirements, including their final projects, to become Eagle Scouts.

Their combined Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held at St. Mary’s of Winfield in Woodside on June 17.

The Eagle Scouts watched as Fred Coltrinari initiated the traditional Lighting the Eagle Trail Ceremony

All natives of Maspeth and Middle Village, the four young men dedicated their projects to serve local communities. Accardo and Dobey focused on the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park, Aidan Haran restored the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service in Manhattan, and Oisin Haran made renovations and repairs to the schoolyard of St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing.

“This is an occasion for pride and joy, as well as a time for serious reflection,” Fred Coltrinari, chartered organization representative of Troop 45, said.

“Eagle Scout is the highest recognition that scouting offers to scouts is earned. Only a small percentage of boys who begin scouting receive this honor,” he continued. “The wearer of the Eagle award is the epitome of scouting’s best efforts and beliefs.”

Throughout the ceremony and the various speeches given, the unique bond between the scouts, families, and troop leaders was apparent.

“All the faces that I recognize from throughout the years, you guys have really made this experience worthwhile. From Cub Scouts at six-years-old, these are the families and faces that I’ve seen since day one, and they’ve always been like brothers and sisters,” Accardo said.

“Other parents have been like parents to me, driving me to and from camp, taking care of me, and just looking out for me like I was one of their own,” he continued. “I really appreciate that; it goes a long way.”

From left to right: Éamonn Dobey, Oisin Haran, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Fred Coltrinari, Aidan Haran, Massimo Accardo, and State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The four scouts expressed their gratitude to the troop leaders through the distribution of mentor pins and other sentimental items.

“I have known these boys for a long time, and I am so proud of their projects,” Marie Casalaspro, den leader, said.

“We had the quarantine during the pandemic, but that didn’t stop them,” she continued. “It was amazing to see.”

Donna Manetta, committee chairperson for Troop 45, made arrangements so the ceremony was extra special, including putting together a slideshow of troop photos from over the years, making poster board presentations for the four projects, and reaching out to noteworthy local, national, and even international figures.

The four Eagle Scouts received commendations from a long list of names, including the New York Jets, the Mets, NASA, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former president George Bush, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Other local elected officials including State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Councilman Robert Holden showed up in-person to celebrate the scouts’ achievements.

“I love Eagle Scout ceremonies because this teaches leadership, and we need good leaders not only in this country, but certainly in the city,” Holden said. “These were great projects, and I want to try to promote more Eagle Scout projects like this. Most of them are community service-based, which teaches the importance of teamwork and volunteering.”

Meng presented the scouts with American flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol on behalf of them specifically. She said that these flags are reserved for only the highest achievements of constituents in the district.

Addabbo thanked the scouts for their community service, and presented each of them with a citation from the New York State Senate.

“The founder of Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, once spoke about boys and changing their attitude to go from what they can get to what they can give. As an elected official, that’s what we are so appreciative of,” Addabbo said.

“During these troubled two years with the COVID pandemic, so many people were in need. Scouts throughout our area were giving out food, helping those in need,” he continued. “Scouts are on a great path. Many are successful in life, and they’re good citizens. These citations not only acknowledge their achievement, going from ordinary to extraordinary and being there when the community needs them.”

South Richmond Hill fire kills three family members

GoFundme launched for family

A five-alarm fire broke out in South Richmond Hill last Friday and claimed the lives of three people.

The Little Guyana community is mourning the loss of three residents of the same family who lost their lives due to a raging fire in South Richmond Hill last Friday.

FDNY Firefighters responded to the deadly blaze at 104-18 125th Street, just after 2 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the fire began spreading to neighboring homes and due to windy conditions carried flames across the road, damaging adjacent homes as well.

More than 200 firefighters and 45 companies responded to the five-alarm fire at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 125th Street, eventually getting the raging flames under control at approximately 4:44 p.m. Five firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Initial searches of the building where the fire started were delayed due to structural issues, FDNY said. As of Tuesday morning, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by fire marshals.

Three people were killed in the blaze—Salima Persaud, Balo Persaud, and their son Devon Persaud.

Two of the bodies were found on Friday, while the third body wasn’t found until the day after, with emergency personnel still on the scene nearly 24 hours later.

A GoFundme has been started by an extended family member for funeral expenses, with over $43,000 raised in two days.

Another E-Scooter Crash

Queens Boulevard is known for being a notoriously dangerous roadway. Thanks to the sudden increase of micro-mobility scooters and e-bikes, and the integrated bike lanes, it seems like this already dangerous thoroughfare is becoming more dangerous than ever.

Meanwhile, this trend of scooter and e-bike riders getting hit by cars continues to grow. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 190,000 emergency room visits caused by micromobility products between 2017 and 2020, representing a 70 percent increase in overall accidents.

Last Wednesday, another scooter driver was hit on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park around 9:30 a.m. Officers from the 112th police Precinct responded to a 9-1-1 call of a motor vehicle collison near the Capital One Bank located at 95-25 Queens Blvd.

Their investigation determined that a 61-year-old woman driving a 2013 Chevrolet traveling on 62nd Drive, made the turn onto Queens Boulevard, where she collided with a 51-year-old woman operating a scooter on the service road.

EMS promptly transported the 51-year-old woman to the nearby Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Northwell Health hospital in stable condition.

It is unclear who was at fault in this accident, or if the scooter was operated in accordance with city guidelines.

Some local elected officials, including New York City Councilman Robert Holden, who represents District 30, feel that these motorized scooters and bikes pose a threat to all who encounter them.

In his district last week, a grandmother and a toddler being pushed in a stroller were hit by an e-biker who ran a light. Although no one was seriously hurt, he does not take this incident lightly.

“People are getting killed, and these things are causing accidents,” Holden said. “It’s becoming like a third world country, because anything goes in the streets of New York.”

“My goal is to get rid of these illegal scooters,” he continued. “The cops have to cooperate and confiscate them.”

Queens Ledger News Group Endorses Juan Ardila for Assembly

Correction: Eugene Noh does not work as campaign advisor for O’Leary. O’Leary also did not hire Won’s team of field operators in his run for AD37.

The 2022 Democratic primary elections are right around the corner. On June 28, voters in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood, will head to the polls to cast their ballots for one of four political newcomers in the race for Assembly District 37.

Only one will win the chance to claim the Assembly District seat, previously occupied by outgoing Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, which has been up for grabs since February. This election day, voters will have the opportunity to choose from one of four candidates in the running for the State Assembly.

Brent O’Leary has an impressive resume as a civic leader with several years of experience. As a moderate, O’Leary is running on a platform that aims to increase community policing, maintain Mayoral control of city schools, and create a system that would promote homeownership over more traditional forms of affordable housing.

He previously lost his bid for office in the 2021 primary elections to Julie Won, finishing third among 15 candidates running for the New York City Council seat formerly occupied by Jimmy Van Bramer.

Brent has done a great deal of civic work for his community, but his current stance on increasing police enforcement contrasts with previous statements made during the 2021 election, where he openly stood in favor of cuts to the police budget, focusing resources instead on the community through affordable housing, education, health care, youth, and employment services.

Johanna Carmona, a young attorney who previously served as a Hispanic community liaison for Nolan, says she is running to help give her community more substantive representation in Albany. Carmona is also running a more moderate-leaning campaign platform focused on public safety, education, and affordable housing.

While she has been very accessible throughout the campaign, there is some concern that she could look to emulate some of the machine-aligned politicians who’ve endorsed her, including Nolan herself, who has been inaccessible low these past 5-6 years.

Jim Magee, a defense attorney who previously helped manage the campaign for Patrick O’Malley against Nolan in 2000, is running with the primary goal of revising the 2019 bail reform legislation. He also hopes to address wealth disparity and public transportation in the district.

Standing firm on his campaign goals to make it more difficult for violent offenders to get off bail, Magee is running a more conservative-leaning campaign than the other three candidates and runs the risk of facing an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with members of the Democratic-led State Legislature.

Juan Ardila is a young community advocate whose experience working with The Legal Aid Society and the Department of Education, has given him the foresight to help local constituents and the wherewithal to effectively delegate the expansion of universal Pre-K programs.

As the more progressive-leaning candidate of the four, Ardila is running a platform that focuses on housing, climate, and healthcare. He is also in favor of legalizing accessory dwelling units and is a supporter of the proposed “good cause eviction” bill.

Ardila previously came up just short of unseating incumbent City Councilman Robert Holden in the 2021 Democratic primary. Obtaining 45 percent of the vote, he fell just 926 votes short of victory.

Although his campaign falls far left of the other three candidates, the fact that he says he won’t align with the Democratic Socialists of America and has stated his intentions to work with both sides of the aisle, in our eyes, makes him a more viable candidate in the Assembly race.

Based on the aforementioned reasons and the fact that his goals align with much of the voting populace in the district, our news organization endorses Ardila as the Democratic nominee in the race.

Unlike his opponents, Ardila said he wants to address the spike in violent crimes at the root of the problem by funding more programs for youth. He also has taken a stance on the local impact of air pollution, and the creation of a single-payer health care system statewide, bridging the unaffordability gaps that plague so many low and middle-income families in the district.

We feel that if elected Ardila will do his personal best to try and protect the community, remain accessible to constituents, and pass/write sensible legislation in concert with the concerns of his district up in Albany.

St. Mary’s hosts 16th annual Big Hearts Walk

St. Mary’s staff and kids enjoyed the activities following the 16th annual walk-a-thon.

Hundreds of New Yorkers came out to Crocheron Park in Bayside on Sunday, June 12, for the 16th annual Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids. The annual walk-a-thon helped raise over $90,000 to help the dedicated professionals at St. Mary’s continue to provide high-quality care to New York’s most critically ill and injured children–regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

“We are so thankful to everyone who participated in this year’s Annual Big Hearts Walk, especially after two difficult years of being unable to gather due to the pandemic,” Dr. Edwin Simpser, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, said. “The money raised from this walk will be crucial in the lives of St. Mary’s children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.”

As the only provider of pediatric long-term and rehabilitative care in NYC, St. Mary’s provides vital programs and services to children with medically complex conditions through an in-patient hospital facility, as well as home care services and community programs.

This year’s event honored David Clarke, healthcare commercial banking and senior relationship manager of M&T Bank. Clarke was recognized as this year’s Big Hearts Walk Honoree for his incredible contributions to raising awareness and funding for critical programs for children with special healthcare needs.

St. Mary’s kids and families were able to stay after the walk for carnival games, face painting, raffles, arts & crafts, and a magician.

Mary’s kids get their faces painted during the festivities.

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