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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.

Poll: Democratic Primary election for Assembly District 37

Democratic primary election for Assembly District 37 –  Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood

NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is retiring from her seat after 35 years. Following the announcement, four local candidates will face-off in a Democratic Primary on June 28, to determine who will be the democratic contender in the November election to fill the empty Assembly seat. Nolan has put her endorsement with Johanna Carmona. Some say the endorsement could hurt Carmona because Nolan has been fairly inaccessible for the past 5 or 6 years. Brent O’Leary says he has learned a great deal about running for office since his council run last year. He is a civic leader who has been in the public eye for more than a decade. Juan is considered by most to be the front-runner in this race because of his strong showing in a council primary race last year against councilman Robert Holden, with similar district lines. But some do consider those votes to be anti-Holden votes as opposed to pro-Ardila. Ridgewood is said to be important for Juan. Jim Magee has the confidence to be in this race. It’s a question whether he can appeal to a wider base, outside Woodside/Sunnyside.

 

Bayside Attorney runs for Judge

Bayside’s own Karen Lin will be in the running for Queens Civil Court Judge in the upcoming Democratic Primary on June 28.

Lin officially announced her candidacy back in April, kicking off her campaign with a show of support from local elected officials including U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, State Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, and District Leader Carol Gresser.

With 25 yeast of legal and courtroom experience, Lin is running to increase representation in the judiciary and to make history as the first East-Asian American woman elected judge in Queens.

“As judges, our job is to serve the people,” Lin said in a statement. “I would love the opportunity to be someone who serves the people of Queens. This is my home, this is the place I love, and these are the streets I know. Representation matters, having people who are diverse on the bench matters.”

Last year, former NYS Assemblywoman and countywide Judge Michele Titus and Judge Laurentina McKetney Butler were elected to the New York State Supreme Court’s 11th Judicial District, leaving behind two open seats for Queens Civil Court Judge. Lin, along with attorney Thomas Oliva, were selected by Queens County Democrats to replace them.

On Monday, May 23, a press conference was held in front of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to announce U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s endorsement of Karen Lin for Queens Civil Court Judge.

“We need judges on the bench that can relate to the people over whom they preside,” Velázquez said during the press conference. “We need diversity on the bench as it is an essential component of a fair and impartial judiciary. Bringing a range of experiences and perspectives allows judges to make better-informed decisions and increases public confidence in their rulings.”

Lin began her career as a civil rights and family law attorney at a small firm, representing families in New York City Family Court and the State Supreme Court. She subsequently left for an opportunity to work for New York State Senator Catherine Abate in lower Manhattan.

From her experience, she gained new insight into the needs of New Yorkers regarding issues such as affordable housing, fair wages, and labor rights, which she hopes to bring to the table if elected to the Queens Civil Court.

“I am deeply honored by Congresswoman Velázquez’s endorsement and support for my civil court race. In the most diverse county of Queens, Asian Americans remain vastly underrepresented in the judiciary,” Lin said in a release. “This is why I’m running. A qualified judiciary is more than just the sum of their professional experience. A judiciary that reflects the community it serves is the most legitimate and effective option. My commitment is and will always be the same: ensuring equal justice under the law for all.”

The Democratic Primary election will be held on June 28.

2022 Election Profile: Assembly Candidate Brent O’Leary

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.

Brent O’Leary, one of the founders of the Hunters Pont Civic Association and President of the nonprofit organization Woodside on the Move, announced his bid for the 37th Assembly district seat, currently occupied by outgoing Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

Nolan, whose district encompasses the Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood communities in Western Queens, has held the position since 1984. Following the announcement of her retirement, four local candidates have opted to throw their hats into the ring.

O’Leary, 52, has been working as an attorney for over 25 years. He was formerly a senior associate at White & Case, one of America’s top law firms, where he specialized in business and financial law.

He previously ran for office in the 2021 Democratic primary election, finishing third among 15 candidates in the running for the New York City Council district seat formerly occupied by Jimmy Van Bramer, losing to political newcomer Julie Won.

“My campaign is going to be run much more professionally this time,” O’Leary said, highlighting what he plans on doing differently.

O’Leary said he considers himself to be an “old school” FDR democrat, running a more moderate-leaning campaign than some of his more progressive opponents like Juan Ardila.

“We have different views on how you get things done,” O’Leary said in an exclusive interview with The Queens Ledger, regarding the three other candidates vying for Nolan’s Assembly seat.

A major proponent of his campaign focuses on providing quality paying jobs, providing a safety net for those who cannot afford private health care, providing quality education for district students, and improving public safety within the community.

“I am capable, caring, and committed,” O’Leary said about representing his community in Albany if elected.

O’Leary says that if he is elected to office he would look to address bail reform, establishing criteria for judges to determine whether or not to keep violent criminals behind bars; housing affordability and rent, promoting homeownership as an investment in the community; and education, which he feels should be left up to the decisions of the Mayor and not Albany lawmakers.

Apart from his work with local nonprofit organizations and civic groups, O’Leary has pitched in by coordinating with community churches to organize emergency food pantries and is working closely with the Hour Children program, dedicated to helping children of those incarcerated at Riker’s Island.

In preparation for the upcoming Democratic primary election on June 28th, O’Leary is canvassing door-to-door across the district, sharing his campaign message and speaking with potential constituents about the issues that matter most to their community.

O’Leary will appear on the ballot against candidates Juan Ardila, Johanna Carmona, and Jim McGee. Stay tuned to The Queens Ledger for election coverage and more to come.

Assemblyman Barnwell will not see re-election

New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell recently announced that he does not intend to seek re-election next term.

“It has been a true honor to serve and I will never forget that I owe everything to the kindness of the people who allowed me to serve as their representative,” Barnwell announced on Twitter. “Just like any other job, you deal with various things you do not like and then one thing is the final straw that makes you decide to move on.”

The Queens Ledger recently caught up with Barnwell, whose district includes Maspeth, Middle Villiage, Woodside, Sunnyside, and parts of Elmhurst and Astoria, to help shed some light on his recent decision.

“What it boils down to is that people would rather play politics than solve the real problems we are facing,” Barnwell said in a message. “The recent budget was the final straw for me. We see all the gun problems and innocent people being killed around the city and the country. We need to be strong on that issue.”

Barnwell indicated that one of his biggest efforts as a state legislator was the ability to have illegal possession of a firearm, in its own right, be considered for bail.

“It doesn’t mean that bail would be set, but the Judge should have that option,” Barnwell continued. “It was denied and I found that unacceptable.”

He also expressed his frustration with city agencies, which he said: “do not want to do their job.”

“The number of no heat and no hot water complaints at NYCHA that went ignored time and time again was another truly unacceptable thing,” Barnwell said. “It is just a whole host of various issues with the government. I did my best to solve these problems during my time in the Assembly.”

In regards to plans following his tenure in politics, Barnwell said he doesn’t have any as of right now, except to finish the term.

According to City & State the local Democratic committee selected Steven Raga, executive director of Woodside on the Move and Barnwell’s former chief of staff, to run for open seat. He will square off against Ramon Cando, a Democratic district leader from Elmhurst and business manager of Laborers Local 78.

Will Queens go all blue this November?

The general election later this year probably won’t excite many voters.
The Republicans won’t be fielding many competitive candidates in the numerous City Council seats that will be open this year thanks to term limits. The Democrats who won their primaries will likely have a cakewalk into office.
As for citywide races, there are Republican candidates for mayor, public advocate and comptroller, with mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa enjoying the greatest name recognition.
However, as we pointed out last week, Eric Adams is basically being treated like the next mayor of New York City already, so it’s unlikely the Guardian Angels founder and radio show host is going to stand much of a chance in November.
Although, perhaps voter apathy will help the GOP. Given the overwhelming advantage Democrats have over Republicans in registered voters, Democratic voters failing to show up to the polls because they think the race is already won might be the Republicans only chance at victory.
Doubtful, but it’s a longshot.
We caught Tony Avella at an event recently during which he referred to Assemblyman Ed Braunstein as his “colleague in government” before rightfully checking himself. Avella only won the Democratic Primary for his old City Council seat in northeast Queens, and as such isn’t in government yet.
Avella actually has a Republican challenger in Vickie Paladino, who knows how to run a competent campaign and has already been engaging with voters because she actually had a challenger in the Republican Primary.
But while Avella was in office, he appealed to voters of both parties because he focused primarily on quality-of-life issues facing his constituents and steered clear of party politics, that is until he joined the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany, a group of renegade state senators who caucused with Republicans.
That decision became part of his downfall when progressive groups campaigned hard against him and helped get John Liu elected.
Now that he has won the primary, he is out there focusing on the issues that always helped him get elected. He recently called on the city to fix the roads in College Point, the LIRR to shut down a noisy Bayside rail yard, and we hear he is going to be calling attention to a controversial land issue soon.
If he sticks to that playbook, it’s going to hard for Paladino to make any headway with voters.
Another race worth paying attention to is in south Queens, where Councilman Eric Ulrich – the lone Republican elected official left in the borough – is term-limited out of office.
Felicia Singh won the Democratic Primary, and she will face off against Joann Ariola, who is also chair of the Queens County Republican Party. The district leans conservative, and some voters, even Democrats, might see Singh as too progressive.
There are pockets across Queens where Democrats have no problem voting for a Republican if they prefer the candidate, and south Queens is one of them. Ariola could benefit from that tendency.
But there is a monkey wrench in the race. Kenichi Wilson was kicked off the ballot in the Democratic Primary after a supporter of fellow candidate Mike Scala challenged his petition signatures.
The Board of Elections validated his signatures and said he could remain on the ballot, but the same supporter filed a peremptory lawsuit with the state before that decision, which kept him off the ballot for good.
During the whole process, Wilson incurred tens of thousands in legal fees, much of which he paid with matching funds from the city. If he didn’t run in either the primary or general election, he would have to pay all of that money back.
So partially to stay out of debt and partially to run for the seat he intended to from the start, he formed his own third party. Wilson will run on the Community First line this November.
Remember when we said conservative Democrats could be persuaded to vote for Ariola? That might not be the case with Wilson on the ballot. Those votes could go to him instead, hurting her chances.
As for Singh, some Democrats who don’t necessarily care for her but would never vote for a Republican, might instead vote for Wilson, which would hurt Singh’s chances.
It’s going to be interesting to see which candidate is effected most by Wilson’s decision to stay in the race.
And if Ariola and Paladino both lose, it means Queens will be all blue.

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