By Joe Anuta
Democratic District Leader and longtime Flushing resident Martha Flores-Vazquez officially announced her campaign last week after collecting enough signatures to get on the ballot for the downtown state Assembly seat.
Flores-Vazquez has lived and been active in the district for decades, she said, something that some of the other hopefuls in the crowded race cannot boast.
“Don’t tell the community you’ve done more than me, because you have not,” she said, speaking of the other candidates. “The day they do more than me, they will be in their graves from a heart attack.”
Flores-Vazquez runs a nonprofit called Community Prevention Alternatives for Families in Crisis, which serves as a counseling and career service center for members of the community. She said her experience working with the various pockets of varied cultures in the neighborhood would make her an ideal pick to represent the area in Albany.
And she is hoping voters in the district, which was created in the 2012 redistricting process to be majority Asian, will pick candidates based on their record of civic activism and not how much money they have in their coffers.
“Because I’m the person that is known throughout the district on my public record of service, I think that is what’s going to help me,” she said, noting that in the past she has called possible sex trafficking and gang activity to the attention of the Queens district attorney and local elected officials.
But according to the last campaign finance filings from mid-July, Flores-Vazquez had only raised $100, a donation from herself. Meanwhile, several other candidates in the race had war chests topping $100,000, and several weeks have passed since the last disclosure.
Flores-Vazquez, 55, was born in Puerto Rico, but moved to New York when she was 2.
Aside from being elected as district leader in 2002, she also ran an unsuccessful campaign against now-City Comptroller John Liu in 2001. She was knocked off the ballot, however, after her signatures were thrown out by the city Board of Elections. It was a lesson in how campaigns should be run, she said, and is reminiscent of what is happening to another hopeful for the district: comic-book store owner John Scandalios.
Scandalios called himself the $999 candidate, pledging to spend no more on the election than his moniker implies. But at a hearing last week his bid was axed by the Board Elections for failing to garner enough qualified signatures.
Scandalios vowed to fight the decision in court, according to several reports, but later said he would try to attain a spot on the independent line by gathering still more signatures.
Other candidates in the race began to pick up endorsements. Ron Kim, the candidate endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party, was also endorsed Tuesday by 1199 SEIU, a health-care workers union. Republican Phil Gim was endorsed Monday night by Republicans in the 22nd Assembly District, headed by District Leader Meilin Tan.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.