By Steve Mosco
He went from presidential honoree to a campaign hopeful in a matter of days.
Less than one week after receiving President Barack Obama’s Volunteer Service Award, Woodhaven resident Etienne David Adorno announced his candidacy for the 38th state Assembly District — a spot held by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) since 2009.
“I’ve been a Woodhaven resident for a long time and it is not what it used to be,” said Adorno, who formally announced his candidacy in Woodhaven Monday. “A true community feel has been missing from this neighborhood for too long.”
The 27-year-old Adorno said that while exploring the possibility of running for the assembly, he visited more than 2,000 households and only 14 people at those homes were able to name Miller as their assemblyman.
Adorno believes this illustrates the community’s disconnect with Miller and the assemblyman’s lack of insight into the needs of the people he serves.
Miller’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
“Knocking on those doors confirmed what I thought — we have a district of 124,000 people that are not being represented. No one knows Mike Miller and that’s a problem,” he said. “Representatives should have the best intentions of the entire constituency in mind. This is what motivates me to want to do something more.”
Adorno is currently a member of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association and serves on the Consumer Affairs and Public Safety Committee for Community Board 9. Prior to those roles, Adorno was recently the legislative and budget liaison for City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan).
The president’s Council on Service and Civic Participation gave the Volunteer Service Award to him for the more than 4,000 hours Adorno devoted to the community. He was recognized for volunteering to be an educator and translator to individuals in the city who did not have the knowledge or financial resources to adequately protect their legal rights.
He also developed a consumer advocacy website and used social media to keep New Yorkers aware of changing parking regulations and traffic laws.
“I never did this hoping to get an award. It was really about helping out my fellow man,” said Adorno, adding that he wishes he could have spoken with Obama, but understands he is a busy man. “It’s good for the community and other young people to say there’s a young guy who was recognized for something he did.”
Adorno said he believes his young age will ultimately work to his advantage in a campaign against Miller, who he called “too nice of a guy sometimes.”
“We need someone in Albany who is not afraid to say what he believes and who is not just a part of the political machine,” he said. “Being a young person, I haven’t had the chance to be tarnished or told how to do things. It’s about doing what’s right for the district — and whether a bill is Democratic or Republican, I will vote on it if it is best for the district.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.