By Gina Martinez
Hiram Monserrate plans to return to city politics.
The disgraced former councilman and state senator plans to run for City Council against Julissa Ferreras Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) in the fall election. This is not Monserrrate’s first attempt to return to politics. In 2016, he ran and lost his bid for Democratic district leader in Elmhurst and Corona.
Monserrate was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 after he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo.
In 2008, Monserrate slashed Giraldo’s face with glass, then pulled her down the stairs and hallway of his Jackson Heights apartment building. Giraldo later claimed the slashing was an accident, but Monserrate received a misdemeanor assault conviction for pulling her by her hair, which was caught by a security camera.
Later, in 2012, Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months in prison for mail fraud. He had used City Council funds through a Corona nonprofit to fund his failed 2006 state Senate campaign.
Despite his controversial past, he is still technically allowed to run for office. According to the New York City Board of Elections, once a convicted felon has served his or her time and owes nothing to the city or state, they are free to run for public office.
Monserrate is focused on the issues and has made the $3 billion Willets Point redevelopment plan his main platform.
“My campaign for City Council is all about putting the needs of our community first and representing working families that live in the 21st Council District and not the special interests or the super wealthy 1 percent,” he said in a statement. “The greatest crime perpetuated on the people of Queens County is manifesting itself right before our eyes with the support of our present failed leadership. Forty acres of parkland from Flushing Meadows Corona Park and up to 64 acres of taxpayer property handed over for a total of $1 to billionaire developers. Our community is on the precipice of being sold out to developers. This type of corporate welfare has no place in our city.”
Monserrate has made his return to the political spotlight in protest of the Willets Point mega-mall project, which would use parkland for commercial development. He has teamed up with the East Elmhurst Alliance at several news conferences in recent months, urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to support the original plans for the land he championed as a councilman in 2008. According to Monserrate, the original mixed use plan included 5,500 units of housing, 35 percent of which was to be permanent affordable housing; an 850-seat public school; and a project-labor agreement that ensured that workers in retail shops would be unionized.
“I am ready to make amends and give back to the community that has supported me for so long,” Monserrate said. “I am prepared to be the fighter that will bring affordable housing, jobs, more schools and protect our public parkland.”
Ferreras-Copeland said she had no comment at press time.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart