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2022 Election Profile: Assembly Candidate Ramon Cando

Ramon Cando, a Democratic district leader and proud member of Laborers Local 78, is one of two candidates in the running for the New York State Assembly’s 30th District—representing parts of Elmhurst, Woodside, and Maspeth.

Cando, 50, champions his role as part of a 3,200-member labor union of asbestos abatement and hazardous waste handlers in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey.

He will be running a contested primary against Steven Raga in the upcoming June 28th Democratic primary to try and fill the seat of outgoing State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who announced back in April that he would not seek re-election this year.

Public safety is a top priority for Cando, who said that the recent uptick of crime over the past two years has led him to run as a “common sense Democrat” with goals of repealing bail reform and granting judges the power to determine how dangerous defendants are. He also opposes the “defund the police” platform, insisting that the NYPD budget should be increased.

“Every single day there’s a shooting,” Cando told The Queens Ledger in a one-on-one exclusive. “I am really concerned that we’re getting used to it.”

Cando also carries the endorsements of City Councilman Robert Holden and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi.

Previously, as the District Leader for Assembly District 35, Cando earned 2,148 votes (58 percent) in the 2020 hyperlocal election, defeating James Fogle for the position.

In his capacity as a District Leader for the past two years, Cando says he helped distribute face masks, PPE equipment, and information about the vaccine in his Elmhurst community.

Cando, who immigrated from Ecuador in the 1990’s, points to his post-financial career in labor organizing as a factor into his decision to run for State Assembly.

“As a member of my union, I’ve learned how to organize my people,” Cando said.

While door-knocking within the district, he says he often meets constituents who are only interested in voting in the Presidential election. He stresses the importance of local races to residents in his district with the hope of earning their vote.

Cando’s pathway to Albany goes through new areas of the district that have been and are currently represented by other, more progressive, hispanic candidates, such as Catalina Cruz (AD39) and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (AD34).

The political newcomer sees an opportunity to bring out a more traditional latino vote, focusing his campaign run on crime and homelessness throughout the district.

Cando argues that many progressive avenues of public safety reform, including investments in city schools, and social services, may need 20 years to see results.

He says the younger generation of latino progressives are very passionate, but aren’t learning from what happened to countries like Venezuela, which went from one of the wealthiest Latin American nations in the world to a majority of its population living in poverty.

“The younger people — the progressives — these are the new socialists,” Cando said. “Why take money from our police officers? New York City is already one of the most expensive cities in the world.”

2022 Election Profile: Assembly Candidate Jim Magee

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Jim Magee, a defense attorney, former prosecutor, and lifelong resident of Sunnyside announced his bid for the New York State Assembly’s 37th District seat, 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.

Magee, 41, has run his own law firm for eight years, where he does pro bono work for locals who have found themselves in tough situations.

He earned his bachelor’s Degree from Fordham University and a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s Law School.

Although this is the first time Magee is running for office himself, he previously helped manage the campaign for Patrick O’Malley when he ran against Nolan for the same seat back in 2000.

The top three issues he’s focusing his campaign on are wealth disparity, bail reform, and public transportation.

“As a Democrat, I think that we should be focused on bridging the gap between the rich and the working class. I don’t understand the hesitance to do that, both nationally and in state government,” Magee said. “It’s irritating.”

Magee used the subject of economic disparity to segway into bail reform, which he’s adamantly opposed to.

“I couldn’t believe what was being proposed,” he said of the law enacted in 2019. “It was written by people who don’t work in the court and don’t know what was happening.”

Magee argues that the bail reform, intended to prevent the poor from sitting in jail until their court dates, has instead caused a stark uptick in crime in the city.

“Incarceration was down statewide 20 percent over the 10 years before bail reform was passed. Crime was also down,” Magee said. “I’m not saying the system was perfect, but whatever we were doing was working.”

He is in favor of making it more difficult for violent offenders to get bail, bringing back plainclothes police officers, and increasing police training.

As for public transportation, Magee said that local Manhattan-bound “7” train service has been shut down during midday for over 30 years, and must be restored.

“It’s been going on since I was in high school, and the MTA always gives the same reason… track replacement,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone working on it, and I never understood why our elected officials never stepped up for that.”

He would also encourage increased frequency in bus service, and put pressure on the MTA not to increase the fare until riders saw a noticeable improvement in the quality of service provided.

To prepare for the election, Magee said he initially corralled a large group of friends to donate money, sign petitions, and spread the word. He has raised about $88,000 for his campaign so far.

“If you know me, and you live in the district, I’ve been a real pain in the ass,” Magee said. “I’ve been calling friends asking them to do things, my people have been knocking on doors, and mailers have gone out.”

He says that if elected, he will be accessible to constituents as he’s a parishioner at St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside, and has his cell phone number on his business cards.

Magee will square off against three fellow attorneys—Brent O’Leary, a Hunters Point Civic Association co-founder and current president of Woodside on the Move, Johanna Carmona, Nolan’s former Hispanic community liaison, and Juan Ardila, a Legal Aid Society program coordinator and former Brad Lander staffer—who are all vying for the Assembly seat, in the upcoming Democratic primary on June 28th.

When it comes to his competition, Magee said that he feels Ardila is his biggest threat.

“He’s the only true blue progressive in the race, and the other three of us are some version of a moderate. I’m basically the Republican in this race,” Magee said.
“When I spoke with Cathy [Nolan], she made this seem as though it’s hopeless. But what I do for a living is dealing with a lot of eavesdropping and meeting with people to find out what they’re really interested in,” he continued.

“I’m very eager to do that in Albany and find out how it works.”

Mike Corbett enters 59th Senate District Race

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Mike Corbett, the vice-chair of the New York State Democratic Party, announced his candidacy for Senate District 59 on Friday, June 10.
Corbett, a lifelong resident of Murray Hill, is the first Manhattan-based candidate to enter the race for the newly created district that covers part of Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and parts of western Queens.

The current candidates are Elizabeth Crowley, a former city councilwoman and cousin of former U.S. congressman Joseph Crowley, Kristen Gonzalez, a young Democratic Socialist and Working Families Party-backed challenger from Long Island City, and Nomiki Konst, an Astoria resident and long-time left media commentator and political activist.

Two days after his announcement, Corbett held a press conference to announce a high-profile endorsement from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

“Mike Corbett is unquestionably the best choice to represent the new Senate District 59,” Maloney said. “As a lifelong East Side resident who worked across the river for more than five years, there is no one who better understands the needs of the diverse communities in this district. I am thrilled to support Mike and look forward to working with him when he is in the State Senate.”

Corbett has a long history of working in New York State politics. For over five years he worked as director of special events for former New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides—-who previously represented parts of Astoria and western Queens—-leading the district’s participatory budgeting program. He has also served as an aide to Councilman Eric Dinowitz and Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez.

Corbett is also a third-generation Teamster who got some of his earliest experience in politics as a union mover. At 24, he was elected to the board of Local 814, making him the youngest elected member in that union’s history, according to his campaign.

“The response we’ve seen over the last 10 days shows that residents from Stuy Town to the Astoria Houses and from Murray Hill to Greenpoint want a candidate who understands their needs,” Corbett said on Sunday, announcing the endorsement outside of P.S. 40, where he attended elementary school. “I’ve dedicated my life to serving the wonderful, diverse communities of this district. Together, we will fight for environmental justice, create true affordable housing, build resilient infrastructure that prioritizes a holistic transit network, and protect workers’ rights.”

Addabbo loses Rockaways, gains Richmond Hill

By Daniel Offner

[email protected]

New York State Senator Joesph P. Addabbo, Jr., will no longer be representing the Rockaways and portions of Howard Beach thanks to the redrawn district maps authorized by a neutral court-appointed expert.

Political district lines are traditionally redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes to the U.S. Census. But, this year, thanks to a decision from the New York State Court of Appeals, the proposed district maps were struck down on the grounds that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor the state’s Democratic party.

The courts ordered that the district maps be redrawn to adequately address the change in population, and as a result, Sen. Addabbo has lost a large portion of his voting base. Due to the new district maps, he will no longer represent Rockaway or Howard Beach, while gaining a portion of the Richmond Hill community.

“You play the cards you are dealt,” Addabbo said about the change in an exclusive interview with The Queens Ledger. “Richmond Hill has a whole different set of issues than Glendale or Middle Village.”

Because of the reshaping of District 15, Addabbo will need to relocate his Howard Beach offices after more than 12 years of serving the Southern Queens community. He said that even his own home in Howard Beach is no longer considered part of the district, falling under the jurisdiction of Sen. Roxanne Persaud’s new District 19.

Resorts World NYC is another major loss for the district, which, as the chairman of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee in Albany, was a major motivating factor behind his push for the approval of downstate Casino licenses.

“Resorts World will still be employing my constituents,” Addabbo said. “It doesn’t have to be physically in the district… I am always going to advocate for them getting a full license.”

Despite the fact that his district will now only encompass the Lindenwood Park section of Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Forest Hills, and now, Richmond Hill, Addabbo said that he plans to remain accessible to his former constituent base in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and The Rockaways.

As for his new district, Addabbo said that each community has its own set of issues. For instance, members of the Woodhaven community are vehemently opposed to legislation legalizing basement apartments, since much of the old homes in that section of the district are wood-framed and at risk of spreading fires.

Meanwhile, he said that brownouts tend to be a major issue in Middle Village, leaving several homes without power for days on end, while homeless shelters continue to be the cause of concern in communities such as Glendale and Ozone Park.

Addabbo will run as the incumbent for District 15 in a contended Democratic primary this August, against candidate Japeet Singh, who previously ran for New York City Council against Speaker Adrienne E. Adams. Should he win the primary, Addabbo will then have to prepare for the general election in November, where he will contend with Republican candidate Daniel Maio in order to keep his seat in Albany.

2022 Election Profile: Assembly Candidate Juan Ardila

Juan Ardila, a Maspeth native and community advocate, announced his bid for the New York State Assembly’s 37th district, currently occupied by outgoing Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

Nolan, whose district 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.

Ardila, 28, is a program coordinator at The Legal Aid Society and has formerly worked as a staff member for then-City Councilmember Brad Lander. He has also worked as a consultant for the New York City Department of Education, where he helped oversee the expansion of pre-K, pre-K Dual Language, and 3-K for All.

He previously ran for the City Council’s 30th district and came up just short of unseating incumbent Robert Holden in last year’s Democratic Primary. Ardila garnered 45 percent of the vote, falling just 926 votes short of victory.

Upon announcing his candidacy for the 37th Assembly district in February, Ardila came out with endorsements from State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblymember Catalina Cruz and Councilmember Jennifer Gutierrez. He has since earned the endorsement of Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, Councilmember Tiffany Caban, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and most recently, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He is also the endorsed candidate for the Working Families Party.

The progressive democrat says he wants to be able to work with people on all sides of the political spectrum — both to his left and to his right — up in Albany.

“It’s a different league, a different ballpark,” Ardila said in a sit-down interview with The Queens Ledger. “You’re just going to have to be someone who can work with both ends of the party.”

Ardila, the youngest and perhaps more progressive candidate of the bunch, identifies the issues of housing, climate, and healthcare as key concerns for constituents within the district.

Ardila is in favor of universal healthcare and a proponent of the New York Health Act, which would create a statewide single-payer health care system. He is also in favor of the “Green New Deal” and the closing of dirty power plants in the borough of Queens.

He is in favor of legalizing accessory dwelling units, which he says could bring an estimated 100,000 new homes into the city with correct compliance and safety standards, and providing real affordable housing for lower-income residents.

He’s also a supporter of the proposed “good cause eviction” bill, which would expand tenant protection rights against rent hikes in certain circumstances. He admits he’s “a little bit on the radical side” of the issue, maintaining his progressive stance that there is no good reason for an eviction of a tenant.

The first-generation American saw his mother, Lesly, be unjustly denied her residency when he was 17. When her Temporary Protected Status expired, Ardila recalled, she was at risk of being deported. When he came of age and met the criteria to become a sponsor for his mother, Ardila started the process of petitioning for her permanent residency.

It would be years later when both Ardila and his mother would find themselves at the Maspeth Post Office for monumental moments in both of their lives. As Ardila filed and finalized notarized paperwork with the Board of Elections for his first run at public office, his mother would receive her permanent residency in the mail during the same post office visit. Following the good news, the two went to the Georgia Diner on Queens Boulevard to celebrate with some hamburgers.

As the Maspeth native spoke about expanding tenant protections and true affordable housing in his sit down interview with The Queens Ledger, an unexpected visit and an exchange of keys from Ardila’s mother showed a glimpse into the reason why he got involved in politics.

“I think that’s the exciting part,” Ardila said. “We are now getting people from non-traditional backgrounds and people coming from the same life experiences as many immigrant and diverse populations are coming from, who are now getting into [politics]. I think that’s what excited people, even in the City Council race.”

Ardila said he consistently heard he had no shot at competing or winning last year’s City Council race, where he earned 45 percent of the vote. This time around, Ardila is prioritizing constituent accessibility in the leadup to the Tuesday, June 28 election. Ardila can be seen at the Sunnyside Farmers’ Market every Saturdary, making himself accessible to eligible voters and constituents.

It was ultimately some advice from former Councilmember and current President/CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club Costa Constantinides, that led Ardila to be even more within reach for constituents of the district.

“He told me just to be yourself, and even if you don’t agree with someone, always be accessible,” Ardila said. “If they want to email you, text you, DM you on social media, respond. There’s going to be a lot of people who don’t agree with you, but just be accessible.”

Ardila will appear first on the ballot against candidates Brent O’Leary, Johanna Carmona and Jim Magee in the Tuesday, June 28 Democratic Primary.. Stay tuned to The Queens Ledger for more election coverage.

Queens BP endorses Juan Ardila for Queens Assembly seat

State Assembly candidate Juan Ardila has earned the endorsement of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

The Borough President’s endorsement is the latest for Ardila’s campaign, which also holds the endorsements of State Senator Jessica Ramos, State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, City Council members Tiffany Caban and Jennifer Gutiérrez, as well as former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Ardila, a progressive running for the 37th Assembly District in Queens, is looking to replace Cathy Nolan, who announced her retirement after 36 years earlier this year.

Juan Ardila has always been a passionate advocate for the community,” said Borough President Donovan Richards. “He is a leader who understands the need for protecting tenants, expanding healthcare access, and fixing the climate crisis here in Queens. I’m excited to support Juan for Assembly because I know he will be a strong champion for progress in Albany.”

The 37th State Assembly district includes the diverse neighborhoods of Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside.

Ardila’s campaign also has the support of the Working Families Party, DC37, New York Immigration Action, Make the Road Action, Open New York, Community Voices Heard (CVH), Churches United For Fair Housing Action (CUFFH) and local Democratic leaders including Emilia Decaudin, Jesse Laymon, and Derek Evers.

I’m honored to have the support of a dedicated public servant like Borough President Richards. He works hard every day to help educate our kids, keep our community safe, and he has a plan for addressing climate change,” Ardila said. “It is wonderful to have the backing of the people who understand the needs of our community and the challenges we face.”

Ardila announced the launch of his campaign earlier this year, as the Maspeth native is looking to garner enough votes in a crowded field of candidates including Johanna Carmona, Jim Magee and Brent O’Leary. Last year, Ardila fell in a tight race against City Council member Robert Holden in the 30th Council District, garnering 45 percent of the vote.

The Democratic primary for the open seat will be held on Tuesday, June 28th.

Time to elect some new political leaders

If you’re registered to vote and you have a mailbox, you’re probably aware that Election Day was this week just as this paper was going to press.
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday to elect candidates for their local City Council races, borough president, mayor, public advocate and comptroller, although the last two were hardly competitive.
In the public advocate race, incumbent Jumaane Williams is expected to win handily. He has three challengers, but none have been mounting much of a contest.
Williams is in the rare position of actually running for two offices at once. While he wants you to give him another term as public advocate, he has already announced that he is running for governor next year.
Usually when an incumbent running for reelection gets pressed about their interest in another office, they usually defer and say they are only focused on doing their current job. Then, shortly after they get voted back into said office, they announce they are running for another post.
Williams is not even bothering to hold up the pretense.
Councilman Brad Lander, who is term-limited out of office, has three challengers but is expected to win the race for comptroller easily.
In Queens, Tom Zmich has been running a competent campaign against current borough president Donovan Richards, who just took office last year after he won what was kind of a special election but not really (COVID threw a wrench in the whole process, it’s complicated) to replace Melinda Katz, so he is already being forced to defend his seat.
It will be hard for Zmich, a Republican, to not only overcome the advantages an incumbent enjoys, but the overwhelming majority Democrats hold in the borough.
But Brooklyn is assured a new borough president. Current office holder Eric Adams is running for mayor and leaving the post, and there are four candidates looking to replace him.
They are Councilman Antonio Reynoso, the Democrat, Menachem Raitport, who is running on the Conservative and Independent lines, and third-party candidates Shanduke Mcphatter (Voices for Change) and Anthony Jones (Rent is 2 Damn High). Wise money would be on Reynoso winning the race.
Speaking of Adams, he has been campaigning nonstop in the run up to this week’s General Election, as has his challenger, Republican Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa’s campaign was nearly derailed after he was hit by a car last week. He was on his way to a radio interview on Friday when a yellow cab struck him outside Radio City Music Hall. Sliwa went on to do the radio interview, but afterwards learned that he suffered a fractured right arm.
He was treated and released, and was soon back on the campaign trail.
Sliwa held his own in two debates with Adams, and has been running a serious campaign, but he will also have a difficult time overcoming the major advantage the Democrats have among registered voters.
Perhaps a more progressive candidate would have been better for Sliwa, but Adams’ past as a member of the NYPD and his established political bona fides (whether you think that is a good thing or not), make him more attractive to some of the more moderate Democrats who could have been swayed to vote for Sliwa if a way-left-leaning candidate was on their line.
As long as we mentioned that Williams is running for governor next year, we should note that Attorney General Letitia James last week announced that she would also be challenging Governor Kathy Hochul next year.
It’s clear that one of the key strategies for James is connecting with New York City voters. Political pundits are already predicting that Queens, Brooklyn and the New York City suburbs are going to be key battlegrounds in next year’s gubernatorial race, so expect to see the candidates often over the next year.
In fact, after making her decision official last Friday, James was in Queens campaigning on both Monday and Tuesday, making appearances in Forest Hills and Ozone Park with City Council candidates Lynn Schulman and Felicia Singh.
Speaking of Singh, she is in one of the most hotly contested City Council races on the slate this year. Singh is a progressive and outspoken candidate running in a conservative-leaning district against Republican Joann Ariola.
The seat is the last one held by the GOP in Queens, which used to have several office holders at the local, state and, even if just for a short time, the federal level. Councilman Eric Ulrich is the last one.
If Singh wins, it might be a long time before the Queens County Republican Party ever elects another candidate to office.
We’ll have more on that race and all of the other important City Council races in Queens and Brooklyn next week.

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