Our Voice on the Queens political establishment’s hard lesson, Your Voice on clergy marriage and voter turnout

Tiffany Cabán celebrated her apparent victory in the Democratic Queens District Attorney primary on June 25.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Editor’s note: The following editorial was first published in the Queens Courier on July 3, hours before the paper ballot count in the Queens DA primary that resulted in Queens Borough President Melinda Katz emerging with a razor-thin lead over public defender Tiffany Cabán, who had entered the day up by about 1,100 votes following the June 25 primary. The race remains undecided as of July 5, and is heading for an automatic recount.

One thing about the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney is certain: The political establishment in this borough was simply outhustled by public defender Tiffany Cabán’s campaign, and it’s time for them to learn from the experience.

One look at some of the maps breaking down the vote showed just how successful Cabán’s campaign was in getting out a huge volume of voters to her side. She won just six Assembly districts, all of them located in northwest Queens, and in numbers that far exceeded the maximum amount of votes Queens Borough President Melinda Katz received in any of the districts she won.

In the 36th District in Astoria and Long Island City, Cabán won 6,174 of the 8,184 votes cast — an overwhelming 75.4 percent of the vote. By contrast, Katz performed her best in the 29th District in southeast Queens, gaining 3,269 of the 5,757 votes cast — a solid 56.8 percent of the vote, but nothing close to what her main opponent achieved.

What did the Cabán campaign do differently than Team Katz to spark such success? They went to the very basics of politics — mobilizing an army of volunteers to knock on doors and personally convince people to support their candidate. They also expanded their reach on social media and ran a dynamic, ideas-based campaign that resonated with progressive voters in northwest Queens.

For better or worse, this voting bloc must no longer be written off. 

In two years, this bloc has vaulted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to victory over a long-term Democratic incumbent Congressman; driven back the deal that would have allowed Amazon to develop a new campus in Long Island City; and is now on the cusp of bringing a 31-year-old career public defender into power as Queens’ top prosecutor.

We recognize the concern among moderate and conservative Democrats across the borough who wonder if this leftward shift will bring about problems of its own. 

But the establishment should neither demonize the left nor capitulate to it — nor should the establishment disappear from the scene entirely. 

Instead, it must retool. 

It needs to learn from what the Cabáns and the Ocasio-Cortezes of the world have done and adapt accordingly. Get back to the basics of grassroots campaigning. Go out in the community and talk to people, knock on doors, sell practical and popular ideas for the 21st century. 

Call upon new voices in the community, bring them into the fold, hear their ideas out. Build a new party platform that adopts some of the old, some of the new — but all of what works best for the people and the community, both now and in the future.

Queens will always be a Democratic borough, but if the establishment wants to continue to define it, then it must change with the times — or, as evidenced in the last two years, the times will inevitably change them. 

What do you think of the state of the Democratic Party in Queens? Send us your thoughts by emailing editorial[@]qns.com. 

Snaps: Photo of the Week

This week’s “Snaps” photo of the week is titled “Fireworks in Astoria” and comes to us via Instagram, @durellagram. Send us your photos of Queens and you could see them online or in our paper! To submit them to us, tag @qnsgram on Instagram, visit our Facebook page, tweet @QNS or email [email protected] (subject: Queens Snaps).

Your Voice: Letters to the Editor

Clergy marriage letters strikes nerve

John Amato implied in his June 27 letter that the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal is due to the celibacy of priests (“Time for marriage in the clergy,” Letters and comments).  He also stated that the Church has no empathy for victims of the abuse. Obviously, Mr. Amato is unaware of certain facts.

First, since new procedures were put in place in 2002, the Brooklyn Diocese has received only two credible claims of sexual abuse. The New York City Board of Education has had many more sexual abuse claims than that and teachers and administrators are not celibate.  Abuse can be perpetrated by anyone.

Second, The Brooklyn Diocese has held numerous masses specifically for those who have been abused.  The Diocese is not trying to pretend that abuses did not occur. On the contrary, the Church admits its faults and along with victims asks for healing and forgiveness.

Finally, Mr. Amato stated that the Church could solve the priest shortage by allowing priests to marry.  The Church has long admitted that it could do a better job of convincing young men that becoming a priest is a viable vocation.  Secular people who cannot understand why anyone would want to be celibate to honor God are the people who show a lack of empathy.

Mr. Amato may be disgusted to be a Catholic but I could not be more proud to be one.

Lenny Rodin, Forest Hills

* * *

I am writing in response to the letter, “Time for Marriage for the Clergy.” 

I agree there is a shortage of priests and clearly marriage could be a solution.  Of course another solution would be to allow women to become priests. Moot point all around because the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is not going to be doing either any time soon. 

As for the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, I find it sad to think that all priests are being defined by the abhorrent behavior of the minority depicted  in the media. I have known many fine priests and I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to prove themselves daily to people who clump them unfairly with those that make the unwanted headlines. 

What frustrates me are “Catholics”  who gave up practicing their religion years ago, using  the church’s problems to justify their actions, and then assume that all other Catholics must feel the same way. 

If it’s empathy Mr. Amato is looking for, so  much good work is being done by Catholic Churches nation-wide, but little of it finds its way into the media.  

Parishes are acting as safe havens for illegal immigrants and homeless shelters for those in need of a roof over their heads. There are nuns who not only teach but care for the sick, elderly and dying in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices as well as those who work globally in the poorest of communities whether in India or Africa.  

Local organizations like Sister Ave Clark’s “Heart to Heart Ministry” in Bayside has, for 25 years, addressed the emotional, mental, and physical needs of people. 

Bridge to Life in Flushing, protects the sanctity of life and offers a lifeline for young needy mothers and their young children. 

Hour Children in Long Island City, cares for children of incarcerated mothers while they are imprisoned, and after their release.

Providence House in Jamaica which helps transition homeless or recently incarcerated women into society.  These are just a few examples of the Catholic Church’s Ministry.

Maybe we Catholics should heed the old Chinese proverb fittingly adapted more recently by the Christophers, an inspirational Christian organization: “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” meaning better to do something to improve conditions than to just complain.

Mary Purtell, Flushing

* * *

Troubled by the turnout

I find reports that there was a poor voter turnout for Queens DA to quite troubling. 

There are 766,117 registered Democrats and yet only about 85,000 bothered to show up and vote. I find this very sad. 

When we don’t vote, the wrong person could get elected who either is not qualified or doesn’t have the best interest of the people. The Queens District Attorney office is a very important and concerns all of us in Queens. Whoever holds this job affects all law abiding citizens. 

Now the race between Tiffany Caban and Melinda Katz is not decided yet, but if Caban wins, I hope Katz has other options. I hope the Queens County Republican Party offers her an option to run in the general election opposing Caban. I believe Katz has the best interest of the people in Queens at heart, and desires to keep the people safe.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Glen Oaks Village

Editor’s note: Joann Ariola, chair of the Queens County Republican Party, dismissed reports last week that the party was considering reaching out to Borough President Melinda Katz about possibly running for DA on the Republican line in November. Also, Katz has publicly turned down running for DA on the Republican line.

Email your letters to [email protected] (Subject: Letter to the Editor) or leave a comment to any of our stories at QNS.com. You can also send a letter by regular mail to Letters to the Editor, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All letters are subject to editing. Names will be withheld upon request, but anonymous letters will not be considered for publication. The views expressed in all letters and comments are not necessarily those of this newspaper or its staff.

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