One Long Island City resident was so dismayed at the role state Senator Michael Gianaris played in making Amazon ditch its plans to build an HQ2 campus in the neighborhood, he launched the “Defeat Gianaris” website the following day.
Now Court Square resident Justin Potter, 39, is upping the ante by changing his political party to challenge Gianaris himself.
“A multi-candidate committee has been formed, Citizens for Queens, and I have filed to run against Senator Gianaris in the 2020 primary,” Potter said. “We need a representative who thinks 25,000 jobs are something to be embraced and leveraged for the benefit of the community, who will give everyone a good faith hearing and respect, and who is focused on more equitable growth, rather than rationing.”
Gianaris drew the ire of Governor Andrew Cuomo following the collapse of the Amazon deal after Gianari was nominated by the Senate to the Public Authorities Control Board which could have vetoed major portions of the proposal. Amazon blamed a “lack of collaborative relationships with state and local leaders” for its decision to bolt the borough.
After 20 years representing western Queens, from Astoria down to Ridgewood, in both chambers of the Legislature in Albany and currently the deputy majority leader in the Senate, Gianaris is used to battles.
“I successfully fought Republicans and their agenda over the last several years and I look forward to doing it again in this campaign,” Gianaris said. “I am confident my record protecting our neighborhoods from further displacement and fighting for better subways and delivering justice for tens of thousands on New Yorkers will be recognized by the voters.
Parker believes it is time for a change.
“Senator Gianaris has been literally or virtually unchallenged for five elections,” he said. “That is simply not how it is supposed to work, and I am determined to do something about it. The coming months will continue to be an exploratory period of attending meetings and listening to people in the community.”
Potter and his wife Claire moved to the Court Square section of Long Island City in 2012 and have since had two children.
“We’re looking forward to bringing them up here,” he said.
Potter is a self-described “stay-at-home-dad” with an e-commerce business he started in 2005.
“Before the implosion of the Amazon deal, I had never given any serious thought to running for office,” Potter said. “However, I have now made it my mission to ensure that voters will have the opportunity to hold Senator Gianaris accountable in the 2020 primary.”
But in order to do so, Potter had to change his party affiliation.
“Yes, I’ve switched my registration to Democrat, and it is effective Nov. 12, 2019,” he said. “I registered Republican on a whim when I registered in NYS, back in 2002, I think, because I thought it would be more interesting to vote in Republican primaries and didn’t think I’d be running for office,” Potter said. “I’ve always voted Democrat in presidential elections, and in most others as well.”