Ardila prepares to serve AD37: ‘I want to give everything I have’

By Jessica Meditz

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AD-37-elect, Juan Ardila.

As residents of Assembly District 37 say “goodbye” to longtime Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, they’ll say “hello” to a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer, Juan Ardila.

The Maspeth native recently celebrated his 29th birthday after being elected to serve the neighborhoods of Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth and Ridgewood.

He was victorious against fellow community advocates Brent O’Leary, Johanna Carmona and Jim Magee in the primary, garnering over 43 percent of the vote.

He ran unopposed in the general election, easily securing the win.

As Ardila and other Assemblymember-elects prepare to take office on Jan. 1, they attended an Assembly orientation up in Albany – making Ardila’s first-ever visit there one to remember.

“I loved everything about it. The vibe and the energy in the room felt like going back to college or high school, seeing old classmates after a while,” he explained. “Even though it was my first time up there, I never felt out of place by folks, and everybody was very engaging.”

Alex Bores, Assemblymember-elect for D73; Grace Lee, Assemblymember-elect for D65; Juan Ardila, Assemblymember-elect for D37; Tony Simone, Assemblymember-elect for D75 at the New York State Capitol during orientation.

Ardila said that given the fact he’s so new to state politics, he came into orientation with no expectations or assumptions, and wanted to arrive with an open mind.

However, he feels pleasantly surprised by how friendly his colleagues-to-be are, and all the positive energy that circulated throughout the room.

Ardila said he found it interesting to listen to his future colleagues, taking note of the differences in needs for various districts across the state.

“The composition of my district compared to the composition of a member in New Rochelle or Buffalo, is very different. But it’s exciting to see so many Democrats come together,” he said.

Ardila has not yet received his assignments, but said that if he could choose a committee to serve on, it would be one of the issues he campaigned on – most notably, housing.

He said that he was told to write 10 choices as to which committees he would like to serve on, and that he would also happily serve on committees related to climate, health care, education or labor.

Ardila said he already feels confident and comfortable to serve the people of his district, as the Assembly has strived to ensure that each member has the tools they need to do so.

One of the first tasks he completed to be accessible to constituents right off the bat was moving into an office located centrally in the district.

During the first week of January, Ardila will move into his district office situated on Skillman Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets in Sunnyside – just steps away from the 7 train.

In addition to being active and accessible for constituents, he’s also prepared to work with colleagues on all sides of the political spectrum in Albany.

Since his sit-down interview with the Queens Ledger in the spring, his top priority issues in the district have remained, namely, climate, housing, health care, immigration rights and public safety.

Ardila is supportive of universal healthcare and the New York Health Act, as well as the Green New Deal and shutting down peaker plants – which are highly polluting power plants that pose significant health threats to locals.

He’s also a proponent for legalizing accessory dwelling units, or independent residential units located on the same lot as a stand-alone home, and passing the Good Cause Eviction bill, which expands protections for tenants.

In regard to the overlap between climate and transportation, Ardila feels the Citi Bike expansion slated for Ridgewood and Maspeth will help alleviate many burdens for residents.

“[Citi Bike] is environmentally responsive, but it also addresses the transportation crisis in central Queens,” he said. “They’re transit deserts, and right now, we’re in that kind of phase where we’re trying to get Citi Bike to come to Maspeth and Ridgewood just to provide more interconnectivity.”

Ardila recently penned an op-ed titled, “Double Down MTA, Queens Needs More Trains,” calling on the completion and implementation of the QNS line – which would reactivate and repurpose freight rail along the Lower Montauk Branch running through central Queens, and connect Long Island City to nearby neighborhoods like Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village — all the way to Jamaica.

Back in June, Ardila admitted he’s “a little bit on the radical side” in terms of tenant rights, and plans to stay true to that through the legislation he’ll propose.

The first piece of legislation he plans to introduce has to do with the issue of housing, and would place a limitation on initial regulator rent not to exceed the average rent for a comparable rent-regulated housing accommodation.

“It’s essentially just trying to make sure that we’re able to keep affordability for as long as possible and as sustainably as possible. It’s a question of whether or not this gets to the floor, but I’ll be pushing for it,” he said.

He also supports Make the Road New York’s endeavor to try and get a state funded public assistance program that can be distributed to undocumented New Yorkers.

Rather than being nervous about taking on this new role, Ardila feels it behooves him to take things for what they are and be open to mistakes.

“It’s one of those things where it’s a learning curve for all of us. It’s a new team, it’s going to be a young team, a very engaged, passionate, high-energy, hands-on and present team,” he said. “So I want to make sure that we are delivering. I’m super grateful for people showing their support and voting, but I also want to take it very seriously and return that to the best of my ability and give everything I have.”

Pol Position: Attack Ads target Assembly Candidate

Real estate interests are spending big in local assembly district races across the city, with attack mailers labeling candidates as too far left.

One of these candidates, Juan Ardila, was recently endorsed by The Queens Ledger in the race for Assembly District 37 — which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Long Island City.

The attacks ads are part of a last-minute ad-blitz from the group “Common Sense New Yorkers,” a Super PAC funded by big real estate money.

Records from the State’s public disclosure system show that within the last two weeks, “Common Sense New Yorkers” has received two donations from 360 SLD Management, a foreign limited liability corporation under the White Plains-based Cappelli Organization, for $30,000; and Muss Development, a multigenerational development company based out of Forest Hills.

These are the groups funding the message that Juan Ardila is “bad news” for our community. Pretty rich for people who don’t live in the neighborhood.

The mailer labeling Juan Ardila as “Dangerous! Reckless! Socialist!” are far from the truth. In an interview with The Queens Ledger, Ardila emphasized that he was not seeking DSA’s support in the race, and has received the endorsement of more traditional New York liberals like Senate Deputy Leader Michael Giannaris or the Working Families Party.

The mailers also claim that Juan Ardila wants to “reduce the budget of the police throughout the state” and that it is in his own words. In the Jim Owles questionnaire response, the attack ad which refers to Ardila specifically, talks about funds that have been used to militarize the police and divert them to social programs to be able to tackle the issue of crime. While he does advocate for some reallocation, it is far from the “too extreme for Queens” allegations.

The mailers also attack Ardila for racist, homophobic and anti-semitic comments he made in high school. This is not a new revelation as it was unearthed by The New York Post during Ardila’s previous campaign for City Council. Ardila has previously apologized for the language he used on Facebook as a teenager.

The truth is Juan Ardila has the best interests of district residents. He is an ardent supporter of good cause, a necessary bill that will protect tenant rights, while the cost of living keeps rising.

One of Juan Ardila’s main competitors in the race, Johanna Carmona, is the real estate industry’s pick. Public records show that Carmona received $4,700, the highest possible donation from Neighborhood Preservation, a PAC associated with the pro-landlord Rent Stabilization Association.

With 24 hours left in the campaign, Carmona has raised some key high-dollar donations from other real estate interests. Public records show that she took a $1,000 donation from Dan Tishman, a long-standing member of the Real Estate Board of New York. Carmona also took $1,000 from Ayala Barnett, the wife of Extell Development founder Gary Barnett, who received favorable tax breaks after being a long-time donor to former Governor Cuomo, as the New York Daily News reported.

Juan Ardilla has foregone taking corporate or developer money. While the polls will have closed before this paper is printed, these attack ads only solidify our endorsement of Ardila as the candidate to represent the community’s interests up 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 Richards endorses Juan Ardila for Queens Assembly seat

Juan Ardila is running for the 37th Assembly District in Queens.

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.

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