When state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan was first sent to Albany representing western Queens in 1984, she was one of the youngest woman ever elected in New York. Thirty-five years later, as she mulls another re-election campaign, Nolan already has a primary challenger.
Mary Jobaida, a Bangladeshi-American “very happily married mother of three,” filed to run in the 2020 NY State Assembly race this week, citing the need for a diverse, truly democratic election in her district.
The Court Square resident, a self-described progressive Democrat, decided to run because Nolan has not faced a primary challenger in more than a decade.
“As a mother of three who has been raising a family in this district for over 15 years, not once have I seen a true, democratic process when I’ve gone to vote for a state assembly member from my party,” Jobaida said. “For all that our country does to serve as a beacon of democracy around the world, having only one name to choose from on a local ballot is not what true democracy looks like. That is why I wish to be the face of change and true democracy in my district.”
Nolan said she would consult with her family and supporters and announce her own plans at an appropriate time.
“I welcome all challengers in our beautiful free country since I have been an independent Democrat my entire career,” Nolan said. “I love representing the people of the 37th Assembly District. It is a great privilege and responsibility I take seriously every day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, ‘know your power.’ As an experienced woman in politics who has worked in such a male dominated field, I am one of the very few women in the history of our state who have been able to accrue seniority in the legislature.”
Nolan was appointed deputy speaker last year after serving as chair of the Education Committee from 2006 to 2018.
Jobaida believes she could make a difference in Albany fighting for universal healthcare, public financing for state elections, eliminating partisan gerrymandering, enacting term limits for state assembly members and combating the excessive influence of the real estate and fossil fuel industries in New York as her campaign’s top priorities.
“If I win, I will push to place term limits on my very own tenure, because no one should hold a single seat in office for more than a decade,” she said adding that her dream is to create a more inclusive electorate that reflects the entire diversity of downstate New York.
The outreach specialist at Urban Health Plan also firmly believes that the city’s booming wealth gap and homeless population requires more action from Albany, and intends to work with members of both state legislative chambers to pass bill that address these and other issues of inequity, such as paid family leave.
Jobaida disagreed with Nolan’s staunch support of Amazon’s plan to build its HQ2 campus in Long Island City while promising to create more than 25,000 jobs.
“I don’t believe Amazon would have been a good corporate neighbor that it pitched itself to be, and that its history of abusive labor practices and working with ICE should have already painted that picture,” Jobaida said. “I also believe Amazon deceived the public in believing that the jobs they were promising would have gone to unemployed or underemployed NYC residents, whose hopes they were exploiting so that they could build here and hire tech-sector employees from anywhere in the country.”
Nolan said she will continue to work on labor, education, environmental, veterans, economic development, infrastructure, and many other family issues both in Albany and in western Queens.
“[The primary in] 2020 is a long time away and it will be up to the residents of the 37AD to decide who will represent them,” she said.