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Photo via the NY City Council Website
Photo via the NY City Council Website
Councilman Robert Holden will remain a Democrat and join several committees he cares about.

When it came time for the City Council to list newly elected Queens Councilman Robert Holden’s party affiliation along with the committees he joined, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made after all.

Although he won the 30th Council District election after accepting the Republican line, Holden was still registered as a Democrat all along. Even if he wanted to switch parties after his victory, it would have taken until November 2018 for it to become official. When Holden spoke to QNS on Wednesday, he said that would just be a waste of time.

“I don’t feel any different just because I got elected as a Republican,” Holden said. “I am who I am, and the label has no meaning to me whatsoever.”

Holden has stayed true to that belief. Even amid questions from reporters every time he walked into City Hall after the election, Holden said his answer was always the same: “I’ll caucus with whoever wants to caucus with me.”

No matter how many different ways he has phrases it, Holden’s message has always been that he only cares about representing his constituents in the best way possible. He describes himself as a “moderate Democrat” and said that he has been pleased by the number of Democratic Council members he has met that share some of his views.

Holden also expressed an eagerness to contribute to the Council committees he joined, many of which he has deep personal ties to. As a member of the Committee on Higher Education, Holden will bring 40 years of experience as a CUNY professor to the group that has jurisdiction over the universities. Even though he only taught at one of the dozens of CUNY campuses, Holden said he has a lot to offer to the committee and is interested in learning more about the challenges each individual school faces.

Yet his connection to the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction is “near and dear” to him, Holden said. He mentioned his father, who served as a medic in World War II and could never let go of the horrors he saw.

Holden said his father turned to alcohol to cope with what he had seen and he became a burden on the family. After his father passed away, Holden said that his uncle once told him, “You never met your real dad; he was the greatest man I ever met.”

Holden knows first hand how addiction affects families and said that nearly every family has one person that struggles with it. He said the key to slowing down the opioid epidemic is to go after the doctors and pharmacists that over-prescribe pills and the drug companies that just want to sell drugs as a solution to every ailment. He also wants to better educate people about the tell-tale signs of addiction so that parents and relatives can recognize them.

When it came to discussing his membership on the Committee on Immigration, Holden expressed sympathy and told another story. He once had a student who he knew was an illegal immigrant. When he asked her why she hadn’t been doing her homework, she said that she only went home to sleep and did so in alternating shifts with other immigrants who shared the living space. Holden said he left his office open for her to use at night after that.

He is also a member of the Committee on Criminal Justice, the Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Committee on Technology.

Holden admits that he is constantly learning on the job, but he is still filled with pride over his victory during his first month in office.

“It’s like winning the World Series: they can’t take that away from you,” Holden said.

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FlipoutNYC January 22, 2018 / 10:59AM
Politicians should be sworn in to serve the citizens not to join either Democrat or Republican. They shouldn't use their party association in order to get elected just because they are Democrat or Republican.
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