By Bill Parry
It was mission accomplished for state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) in a jam-packed party space above a Corona pizzeria Tuesday night. Moya vowed to block Hiram Monserrate’s attempt to reclaim his former Council seat that became open when City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) decided against running for re-election for a third term.
The 21st Council District covers Corona, East Elmhurst, LeFrak City and parts of Jackson Heights.
Moya captured 55.6 percent of the vote while Monserrate had 44.4 percent based on final results reported by NY1. Moya portrayed himself as a man of ethics and honesty against Monserrate, who was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 for assaulting his girlfriend and later served two years in prison for theft of public funds while a city councilman. It was a track record which generated widespread support for Moya from many corners of the Democratic Party.
“We won with a mandate,” Moya said. “I think today was a day when the people of the 21st District really looked at the issues we talked about, the fact that we need to focus on affordable housing and making sure we deliver for our kids and seniors. That’s what we focused on. It wasn’t a negative campaign run by us — it was just based on issues.”
Moya and Monserrate waged a contentious battle for much of the summer.
“The moment I heard who the opponent was, I knew there was no way I could allow that person to come back to public office,” Moya said during an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers. “This man has proven time and time again that his violent, criminal, corrupt past belongs nowhere near public service, especially not the very same seat where he stole $100,000 and never apologized for the theft.”
Moya garnered a mother lode of endorsements from Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ferreras-Copeland and the seven candidates for Council speaker. Each carried a stinging repudiation of Monserrate. Even civil rights leader John Lewis, the Georgia congressman, joined lawmakers backing Moya.
Monserrate accused Moya of living outside the district in a Long Island City penthouse, committing voter and tax fraud without providing evidence. Moya refuted those charges, saying he owned the property and rented it out to a tenant.
“This is my borough and someone has to be a voice piece for the community,” Monserrate said during his interview with TimesLedger Newspapers. “Moya is not a voice piece, he’s a tool of corporate interests. Supporting him will just get more of the same, nothing changes and they’ll build another stadium. There won’t be any affordable housing and people will be displaced.”
As Moya was celebrating his hard-won victory in a crowded party space above a Corona pizzeria, Monserrate left his East Elmhurst headquarters refusing to speak with the media and leaving behind dozens of campaign workers who were trying to get paid. Neither Monserrate nor his campaign spokesman could be reached for comment.
At Moya’s party, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the Queens County Democratic organization, called it “a great night for public integrity.”
“I’m happy and I’m honored the people of this community supported me,” Moya said. “We’re going to run this district with honor and integrity. I did it for seven years in the Assembly and I’m going to bring that leadership to the City Council.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr