2022 Election Profile: Michael Conigliaro runs for AD28

‘I’ve touched every part of the district’

By Jessica Meditz


Michael Conigliaro challenges Andrew Hevesi in Assembly District 28.

Republican challenger Michael Conigliaro hopes to win big next week against incumbent Andrew Hevesi in the race for Assembly District 28.

The district encompasses parts of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Middle Village, Glendale, Maspeth and Kew Gardens, the latter of which was recently gained due to redistricting.

The boundaries of Assembly District 28. Photo: Redistricting and You: New York, Graduate Center of Cuny.

If elected, Conigliaro, 53, strives to focus on the issues of crime, small businesses and education within the district.

Reflecting on the fears he’s heard from residents about crime, he feels that the bail reform legislation passed in 2019 should be repealed in its entirety.

While he understands that he cannot get that done alone up in Albany, he would use a person-to-person approach to work with fellow Assemblymembers.

“I’d like to meet all of my fellow representatives in the state legislature and say, ‘Look, let’s take our political hats off as human beings. Look in your district,’” he said. “‘Can you tell me the people in your district right now don’t have the fear that the people in my district have?’”

Conigliaro is a proponent of using the funds allocated for community-based jails, such as the one being constructed in Kew Gardens, to improve Rikers Island instead.

He would take a tour of Rikers to see firsthand the problems it has, utilize his ability to get state money and work with City Councilmembers to advocate against jails in neighborhoods and for keeping Rikers open.

“Nobody wants a jail in the neighborhood. Nobody wants a homeless shelter. But these things have to be discussed, and there’s ways to figure them out,” he said.

“I believe that Rikers can be fixed, because it’s waterfront property. There’s other reasons why they want to take that place, close it and then put local jails. But I believe, when you look at the situation is in our neighborhoods…You’re really taking those neighborhoods now and you’re also hurting the fact that people are gonna say, ‘It’s open, I’m leaving,’ property values will drop, businesses will close and the domino effect is only bad rather than looking at the options.”

He shares the same sentiment for homeless shelters in the community, namely the men’s shelter located on Cooper Ave. in Glendale. As a civic leader, he has experience volunteering at faith-based homeless shelters, and supports them as a solution to homelessness.

Citing the 238 percent increase in 9-11 calls within Glendale as a result of the shelter, Conigliaro suggested that it poses a threat to the five schools within the immediate area.

Given his experience as President of the Community Education Council – District 24 school board, ensuring that children get the education they need is of utmost importance to him.

The matter includes protecting students by prioritizing school safety and rewarding students for good merit rather than on a lottery basis.

“I had parents calling myself and Superintendent [Madelene] Chan saying that their child is a straight A student, but didn’t get into any high schools because of this tiered lottery system rather than merit-based,” he explained.

“What you’re seeing is that a lot of children’s self-esteem are being affected by the fact that they’re saying, ‘I work hard, I want to get into a good school and I didn’t,’” he continued. “If you start creating a lottery rather than merit-based, you’re going to have children who are there via politics rather than merit, and the ramifications of that are really hurting the children because if they don’t make it at that school, you’re now creating another self esteem issue.”

Regarding small businesses, Conigliaro said that as a result of crime, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses have seen a decline.

In an effort to rectify this, he would like to find a way to give small businesses an incentive to come into the area by offering a small moratorium on the sales tax.

As for where he feels state money should be allocated in the district, areas such as infrastructure and assisting small businesses and homeowners come to mind, but he would ultimately like to conduct a study to figure where funds are most needed.

If given the choice of which committee in Albany to serve on, Conigliaro said he would choose Veteran Affairs.

“We have migrants coming in right now because New York is a sanctuary city, but we have veterans who served in all wars and many of them are out there with PTSD. They’re homeless, they’re jobless and they need our help,” he said.

He would look to work with Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council to provide homes to veterans in need.

Utilizing funds from the city’s Homeless Services Budget, his goal would be to set up facilities for them in buildings that have been foreclosed.

“When you see a homeless veteran out there, and they should all be thanked for their service, I just feel like [they] fought for [their] country, and now [they’re] home. If you need us to work with you and give you assistance for something, and some of them may not even be able to ask for it…I want to be a voice for them, and I want to utilize my skills to work to improve their quality of life.”

Conigliaro said that if elected, he would work in unison with colleagues, regardless of party affiliation, focusing solely on issues that impact the people they serve — whether it be education, crime, tax issues, the environment or quality of life.

He feels similarly in regard to constituents who may not agree with him on every issue, such as abortion — being he’s pro-life.

“That issue and my opinion on it, quite frankly, should not stop someone from supporting me because of what I want to do about crime…about education…about property taxes…about our veterans and homelessness,” he said. “We can agree to disagree, but let’s work on the other things we can agree on, because you’re never going to agree on everything.”

He also understands the value of an elected official who’s transparent and accessible to constituents, which he said he will follow through on.

Since he’ll be new to the State Assembly, he feels that up in Albany, he can serve as a unifier — bringing a new perspective.

For this reason, Conigliaro feels that seats in the Assembly should be term-limited to two four-year terms, just like presidential term limits.

Furthermore, he is no stranger to running for election, having gone up against incumbent Joseph Addabbo for State Senate twice, and Lynn Schulman for Council District 29.

He is aware of the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district between eight and 10 to one. However, he continues to be approached by residents who say they didn’t vote for him in the last election, but will vote for him this time around.

“People are telling me that they now see what I’ve done on CEC 24, what I’ve done as a civic leader in general. I was the president of the Queensborough Community College Alumni Association, I’m with the Knights of Columbus…I do things for people in the community on a daily basis without being elected, and people see that,” he said.

“I don’t cry over spilt milk, but I think that the experience from those races has led me now for enough people to say, ‘I think it’s time to give Mike a shot.’”

Conigliaro’s first two years of life were spent in Ridgewood, he grew up in Kew Gardens, lives in Rego Park, has close friends in Glendale and went to high school in Richmond Hill.

He has two young daughters, aged 14 and seven, whom he raised while attending Concord Law School online, studying while they slept, and even in bathrooms during family trips.

“I’ve touched every part of the district,” he said. “We really have a beautiful district; we have parks, we have different civic associations…District 24 and 28 are really great school districts with good school superintendents,” he continued.

“People love living in any one of these neighborhoods in the district, and I think I can lead it well.”

Singh to go toe-to-toe with Addabbo

Candidate Japneet Singh runs for State Senate

Japneet Singh is looking to represent his vast, yet often disenfranchised community up in Albany.

The 28-year-old candidate has challenged incumbent State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and candidate Albert Baldeo in the Democratic primary on August 23.

The winner will determine who will run in the November general election to represent the Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Forest Hills, Maspeth, and Richmond Hill communities.

Singh was raised in a Sikh household and brought up by immigrant parents from Punjab, India, who moved to the Richmond Hill community when he was just an infant. He spent his entire childhood in the area, where he attended the local public schools.

After graduating from John Adams High School, he went on to receive both a Bachelors in Accounting, Economics, Finance, and International Business and a Masters degree in Accounting from CUNY Queens College.

It was there that he discovered his passion for public service. An active participant in student government, Singh served as the vice-chairperson of senior college affairs with the CUNY University Student Senate, where he oversaw the interests of over 500,000 students.

Hoping to represent his community in a similar fashion, he is running for Senate on a campaign platform targeting key issues in the district, including public safety, education, government transparency, and housing.

Singh said that one key issue is the need for more community-based policing in the district. This past year, the community has witnessed five different hate crimes against Asian-Americans between the ages of 55 and 72.

“These are people my parents and grandparents’ age, who have seen the fear and devastation with their eyes. It’s emotional at that point,” Singh said, adding that the language barrier, confusion, and fear of deportation are some reasons why people in the Sikh community are afraid to call the cops.

It is his hope that by working with the community he can help build better relationships with the NYPD.

According to his campaign website, he also plans to work to amend bail reform, increase the minimum sentencing for hate crime offenders, implement background checks for weapons, fund rehabilitation for at-risk youth, and provide funding for a Sikh community watch and other community safety organizations.

Another key issue his campaign focuses on addressing is educational inequity in the district. Singh said that the construction at John Adams High School has been ongoing since 2012.

“It’s still going on. It has been 10 years. If you took that same school and put it in the Upper East Side or Williamsburg or Long Island City, it would’ve been done,” Singh told The Queens Ledger in an exclusive interview. “They spent $50 million building the library in Long Island City but they can’t spend $50,000 for kids? There’s no reason Astoria has electric car chargers, but we don’t even have trash cans.”

He said that the construction at M.S. 228 has been ongoing since he graduated in 2008. “And you know what’s so funny. It’s in my backyard. I have to look at it every single day,” he continued. “If it was Astoria it would’ve been done… There’s a real problem there.”

It was a lack of local educational infrastructure that motivated him to run for City Council against Speaker Adrienne Adams in 2021, according to Singh. He was particularly disappointed with how she had given South Jamaica schools nearly a million dollars in discretionary funding, compared to Richmond Hill, which was in the tens of thousands of dollars range.

Another critical proponent of his campaign is the need for government transparency. During his interview with The Queens Ledger, Singh touched on the $220 billion state budget, and its lack of investment in higher education.

“I think when a billion dollars is going to a stadium instead of coming to communities that need it, that’s a big problem,” Singh said. “I think the last time you had a tuition freeze for students was in 2018. Since then tuition is going back on the rise.”

He added that every year politicians tout the investments being made to fund public schools and how nobody is doing anything to see them through.

“Year after year these budgets are passing, yet every day people are doing less and less. There’s a problem. A systemic problem,” he said. “Take a look at who is doing what and I think we need to make sure that we keep all those elected officials accountable.”

Housing is another big focus of his campaign. While he is a staunch supporter of passing the Good Cause Eviction Act, he said that he also understands some of the nuances which need to be addressed as well.

“I think we need to look at it as well. There are some cases where, if they’re in good financial standing and are driving great cars and they’re still not being evicted, they’re just taking advantage of landlords,” Singh said. “Unfortunately I get a lot of calls from people complaining that they haven’t paid rent in a year, but they’re ordering take out every single day, they have nice cars. We need to reassess those. But in general, for the people who have a legitimate reason why they can’t pay rent, we definitely need to make sure we support them.”

Singh is also in support of reforming laws that increase the cost of building more housing, reducing property taxes on multifamily rental properties, and passing legislation to legalize basement apartments in the district.

“As a property owner, I was actually doing a lot of work with Hurricane victims, especially in Queens, where two people were lost due to illegal basements and couldn’t get out,” Singh replied. “I think there should be a push to make the illegalized basements legal and to help homeowners facilitate those costs as well. Sometimes they are asking for an arm and a leg and some people can afford that. But I also don’t encourage illegal basements that aren’t going to be supportive of their tenant either.”

He said that it needs to be a two-way street where the government works with homeowners, and where homeowners and tenants can feel confident trusting their elected officials will work for them.

Ardila wins Primary bid for Assembly

Maspeth native Juan Ardila is one step closer to claiming the open seat in the 37th Assembly District, left vacant by soon-to-be retired State legislator Catherine Nolan, who has represented the community for the last 38 years.

The 28-year-old progressive candidate won the 2022 Democratic Primary on June 28, based on unofficial results provided by the State Board of Elections.

Ardila finished the race with approximately 42 percent of the vote—receiving 3,355 votes out of nearly 8,000 local residents who cast their ballots—in a four-way race to represent parts of Long Island City, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Ridgewood.

Opposing candidates: Brent O’Leary, Johanna Carmona, and Jim Magee each put up a valiant effort, taking a combined 54 percent of the vote, but in the end came up short of victory.

O’Leary, a Hunters Point Civic leader and board president of Woodside on the Move, finished second in the election with just over 25 percent of the vote. The 52-year-old attorney previously ran for the New York City Council seat occupied by Jimmy Van Bramer, finishing in third among 15 candidates.

Considering himself the “FDR Democrat” in the race, O’Leary received endorsements from Citizens Union, Voters for Animal Rights, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and the Stonewall Democrats.

Carmona, an attorney and former Nolan staffer finished the race just short of O’Leary, taking 19 percent of the vote. A political newcomer, her campaign focused on improving the quality of life for residents and educational endeavors including college access programs.

The 32-year-old candidate also carried the Queens County Democratic Party nod, with Congressman Gregory Meeks and Nolan’s endorsement, among others.

Magee, a prosecuting attorney from Sunnyside, finished last with nearly 10 percent of the vote. The former assistant district attorney ran a campaign focused on restoring judicial discretion over bail, wealth disparity, and improving public transportation.

“I thought the district was more concerned about crime than it apparently is,” Magee told The Queens Ledger.

The lifetime Democrat said he reached out to Ardila on Tuesday night and wished him the best.

“I wish Juan the best,” Magee added. “I’ll make myself available to him if he wants to talk.”

Expecting a low turnout at the polls, only 18 percent of the 43,456 registered Democrats living in the district cast their ballots on Tuesday, according to the New York State Board of Elections. The tally also included 252 blank ballots, 28 void ballots, and 10 write-in candidates.

In his previous run for City Council in 2021, Ardila came up short against incumbent Robert Holden, but the overlapping neighborhoods of Maspeth and Ridgewood in the newly-redistricted 37th Assembly district brought out some 2,000 voters who had voted for him in the prior race.

Ardila was endorsed by the Working Families Party, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, City Councilwoman Tiffany Caban and Councilwoman Jennifer Gutierrez, and Borough President Donovan Richards.

On election night, all four candidates held watch parties within a half-mile radius of each other in Sunnyside, as canvassers with each campaign made their eleventh hour pitch to any last-minute voters outside the polling site at I.S. 125.

Ardila declared victory roughly an hour and 15 minutes after the polls closed at 9 p.m., celebrating with a group of supporters at Bar 43, on 43rd street in Sunnyside.

“You all believed in something that was inclusive, beautiful, and diverse,” Ardila said. “And that’s what we fought for.”

In his remarks, Ardila said it had been a dream to see progressive representation in Maspeth.

“Let the record show, on June 28, 2022, Maspeth voted for progress,” Ardila said.

He then thanked the other candidates in the running, saying that he remains hopeful to work with them in the future.

“Everybody stuck to their message, even if we didn’t agree on the issues.”

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, Ardila came under fire for traffic violations and tickets reportedly issued to a vehicle he has been seen driving around in.

Ardila told The Queens Ledger that he and his team opted to take the high road, deciding to stick to keeping a tight ship and getting their message across to voters.

“I spoke with my team and we decided not to engage in negative campaigning,” Ardila said.

Thanks to some timely advice from Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who encouraged running and ultimately winning the race with grace, Ardila managed to pull ahead of the competition without stooping to such tactics.

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


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


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


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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