By Bill Parry
State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) announced Thursday that he will run for the City Council in the 21st District after City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) decided against running for re-election this fall.
Ferreras-Copeland first won her seat on the City Council in 2009, becoming the borough’s first Latina elected official and she went on to make history in 2014 when she became the first woman and first person of color to be named the head of the Council’s powerful Finance Committee.
“After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided not to run for re-election,” Ferreras-Copeland said in a statement to Politico. “I have had the privilege of representing the 21st District in Queens for eight years, where I’ve fought for the education of our children, the rights of women and families, and the protection of our immigrants.”
Ferreras-Copeland married Aaron Copeland in a 2015 wedding officiated by Mayor Bill de Blasio, but Copeland works as an aerospace engineer in Maryland.
“As a mother and a wife, it has become increasingly difficult to have my family divided in two locations,” she said. “Although this is not an easy decision, this is what makes sense for my son, for my family, and for me.”
Ferreras-Copeland had been considered a front-runner to replace Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), who is term limited. There was no further comment from her office Thursday.
Meanwhile, Moya vowed to build on his progressive record in Albany of standing up for immigrants rights, working families and small businesses in face of threats posed by the Trump administration.
“For the last seven years, I have worked tirelessly in Albany to stand up for working families in Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and across this city,” Moya said in a statement. “I have seen the challenges we face in providing a quality public school education to our children, encouraging the small businesses that drive economic growth in Queens, and standing up for the rights of immigrants, women and members of the LGBTQ community at a time of mass deportations, fear and Donald Trump. We see the hardworking men and women who build this great city and make it run struggle to receive the fair wages and workplace protections they need and deserve.”
Moya is seen as an ally of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), head of the Queens County Democratic Party, who has had a strained relationship with Ferreras-Copeland since she went against the machine when she backed Mark-Viverito for speaker in 2014. Crowley, whose party had backed Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) for the post, released a statement Thursday that showed no animosity towards Ferreras-Copeland.
“Council Member Ferreras-Copeland has been a powerhouse in the City Council, standing up for Democratic values and delivering real results for the people of Queens,” Crowley said. “Women leaders are crucial to the success of our country, and she has been a trailblazer who will continue to inspire young girls in our community and beyond. While I’m disappointed Council Member Ferreras-Copeland will not seek re-election, I have no doubt she will continue to find ways to serve the public. I’ve been proud to work with her on many issues and I thank her for her service to Queens.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr