Cabán endorses González-Rojas for western Queens Assembly seat

QNS file photos

Former candidate for Queens District Attorney Tiffany Cabán announced her support for Jessica González-Rojas, a reproductive health advocate and insurgent candidate in the Democratic primary for State Assembly District 34.

“In a district that is 88% people of color, we need to elect community champions who will fight these injustices — at the root and with an unwavering commitment,” Cabán said in a statement. “I’m proud to announce my endorsement of Jessica González-Rojas.”

González-Rojas, who is one of four candidates challenging six-time incumbent Michael DenDekker, said she was proud to receive the endorsement.

“I’m thrilled, ecstatic, proud and humbled to receive her endorsement,” González-Rojas said. “She’s someone I volunteered for and supported and I believe in her vision. She’s changed the narrative of how justice can be possible in this state, city, borough and country. We are very much value aligned.”

Cabán chose to endorse González-Rojas over Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo, Joy Chowdhury and Angel Cruz, the three other challengers vying for the seat.

O’Doherty-Naranjo, who, along with González-Rojas and Chowdhury, volunteered on Cabán’s DA campaign, has expressed disappointment in Cabán’s endorsement. As a Manhattan prosecutor, she said her support for Cabán during the DA run, lent credence to the reformer’s calls for changes to criminal justice.

“It’s disingenuous [for Cabán to endorse González-Rojas] because I feel like I gave her legitimacy as a former prosecutor,” O’Doherty-Naranjo said. “I helped her make it work.”

Additionally, O’Doherty-Naranjo accused González-Rojas of not being “a local person.” González-Rojas has lived in the district, which covers Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst, since 1999. O’Doherty-Naranjo has lived in the district since 2001.

“Although this is her residential address, she’s not involved in local activities,” O’Doherty-Naranjo said. “She was in Washington doing great work, yes, but she wasn’t here.”

González-Rojas, however, maintains that while her work may have taken her out of the district at times, it’s been for the benefit of her local community.

“I’ve worked both locally and nationally,” said González-Rojas, who was the founding member of several organizations that serve the undocumented and immigrant communities in her neighborhood. “That just shows I’m able to do both local organizing and make impact at the state and national level.”

In recent months, González-Rojas has received endorsements from several political groups, including Make the Road Action, a immigrant rights organization. She has also gotten support from the Working Families Party and City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who’s district overlaps with Assembly District 34.

DennDekker, who was first elected in 2009, said that his primary concern at the moment is helping his constituents through the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am proud of my work for my neighbors in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Woodside, and Corona, and I believe my record outshines that of any other candidate,” DenDekker said. “Right now, I am primarily concentrating on helping my constituents through the dangers and troubles of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chowdury and Cruz did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Additional reporting by Angélica Acevedo.