As a civic leader, I don’t mind listening to complaints or helping resolve them. But I do so with the knowledge that there’s a good chance the person complaining is part of the problem. Why? Because they probably didn’t vote, and it resulted in us getting poor representation which led to the problem. This is easily avoidable if people make a minimal effort to participate in democracy.

Voter apathy

In last year’s general election, there was roughly a 10% turnout in our area. That is abysmal. Of those who even bothered to register, many only turn out for presidential elections, which is incredibly foolish, as the people screwing us daily are elected on the local level – City Council, Mayor, Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, and Judges. The November presidential race in New York has been a given for decades.
And those who do turn out many times aren’t tuned into the issues. Like robots, they seek out the candidates with D or R next to their names and vote down the line, even if that candidate has expressed that they plan to side against the community’s wishes. Just plain dumb.
Here are two recent examples of how not voting or choosing the wrong people has led to us getting the short end of the stick.

The Maspeth Migrant Shelter

The community opposes this shelter as the needed services our tax dollars fund are being cut to provide housing and other services for migrants. Prior to our April Town Meeting, I requested that all the elected officials who represent this area provide a statement as to whether they oppose or support it. City Council Member Robert Holden and State Senator Joseph Addabbo were the only elected officials to state that they are unequivocally opposed to it. Congress Member Grace Meng and State Senator Michael Gianaris stated they “wanted the process to be transparent,” but did not express an opinion either way (which means they aren’t opposed). Assembly Members Catalina Cruz, Juan Ardila, Andrew Hevesi, and Steven Raga didn’t bother to respond, which means your opinion on this doesn’t matter to them.

Improvement projects

How about decking over the Long Island Expressway? This proposal was put forth by Council Member Robert Holden and a whole bunch of local electeds jumped on that bandwagon – to sign a support letter. When I asked them what the progress was on it, I was told, “You need to convince DOT to put it on their priority list.” We must do this? What did we elect you to do? We are telling you we want this, and we expect you to advocate for us. In the meantime, communities in Brooklyn had Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Nydia Velazquez – both of whom also represent Maspeth – cheering on the $5.6M funding of the redesign of the BQE. The South Bronx got $150M for decking over the Cross Bronx Expressway. Do you know what Queens project got $123.6M through the latest allocation from the federal Reconnecting Communities Program? The Queensway, which is an effort to turn a former rail line into a High Line style park. If there’s any community that has had past transportation infrastructure decisions that have unduly burdened and divided it, it’s Maspeth. But we got bupkis.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea, that not voting in the right people is a huge blunder. It means that depending on the situation, we get either dumped on or ignored.

Important primary

There is only ONE primary this year for the state races in our area: the Democratic primary for State Assembly District 37 which covers all of Maspeth south of the Long Island Expressway. The candidates are:

• Incumbent Juan Ardila (top, right), who unsuccessfully ran against Bob Holden for City Council, then won the assembly seat two years ago but was soon accused by two women of sexual assault that occurred while he was in college. He has refused to step down despite calls for him to do so by his colleagues. The cloud of scandal has caused him to become persona non-grata in Albany.
• Claire Valdez, a north Brooklyn Democratic Socialist who moved to Ridgewood to run for office. Her platform includes supporting Good Cause Eviction, the creation of a Social Housing Development Authority, taxing the rich, and granting voting rights for all immigrants, including the undocumented. Every elected socialist in the city as well as one of Maspeth’s state senators, Michael Gianaris, have endorsed her.
• Johanna Carmona (bottom, right), an attorney and lifelong resident of Sunnyside who served in the Special Victims Bureau in the District Attorney’s office and in private practice helped survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks access the Victims’ Compensation Fund. Her platform includes strengthening community policing, expanding access to mental health services, integrating civic education and opportunities for community service into school curricula, and expanding and improving public transportation options.

The only candidate who has reached out to the Juniper Park Civic Association to hear our concerns is Johanna Carmona which indicates that the others don’t value us or the communities we represent. If you are a registered Democrat who lives in this district, what you need to do on or before June 25 should be obvious. There is no Republican running in this district in November, so this race is winner-take-all.

There is no excuse. Visit for info on how and where to cast your vote this month and in November.