Young progressive declares victory in southeast Queens Assembly race

Courtesy of Anderson’s campaign

A young progressive community organizer has rocked the establishment in southeast Queens.

At age 24, Khaleel Anderson declared victory in the Democratic primary to represent New York’s 31st Assembly District, which spans parts of Averne, Far Rockaway, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale and Laurelton.

Anderson beat his closest opponent in the six-way race — Queens County Democratic Party-backed Democratic District Leader Richard David — by more than 750 votes, though the results have not been certified by the city’s Board of Elections.

Anderson is slated to become New York state’s youngest Assembly member, with a likely victory in the Nov. 3 general election, and would fill the seat vacated by former Assemblywoman Michele Titus, who stepped down in January after being elected to serve as a Civil Court judge.

“I am thrilled to declare victory in the 31st Assembly District. The establishment never thought a 24-year-old Black progressive could win for this community but together, we proved them wrong,” Anderson said. “This win is bigger than me, it means that transformative justice is coming to Queens.”

As a Black man raised in the Rockaways, Anderson has spent years fighting the racial and economic inequalities that define the region and ran on a platform calling for policy solutions to transit deserts, environmental racism, and over-policing. In addition to his organizing, Anderson serves as a member of Community Board 14.

“I have been on the ground fighting for my neighbors since I was a kid, from leading the charge on extending the Q52 line to building community gardens as a youth organizer for a non-profit community group out of the Rockaways, and it will be the honor of my life to continue the fight in Albany. Now let’s get to work.”

Residents of the majority-Black and Latinx Far Rockaway contracted, were hospitalized, and died from COVID-19 at eight times the rate of their White counterparts on the peninsula.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Anderson helped launch the Mutual Aid Network of Southeast Queens and The Rockaways. He received the support of many progressive stars and the endorsement of the Working Families Party.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate Working Families Party champion Khaleel’s historic win. As a 24-year-old Black man on the frontlines of the fight for racial and economic justice, Khaleel is the leader the Rockaways deserves,” New York Working Families Party Director Sochie Nnaemeka said. “From day one, Khaleel ran an unapologetically progressive vision, from tackling environmental racism to guaranteeing housing for all New Yorkers. His bold call for change is what the Rockaways want, and they showed up at the ballot box to prove it. We look forward to advancing justice for all with Khaleel in Albany.”

In a message to his supporters, David congratulated Anderson on winning and thanked the volunteers on his campaign, 90% of whom were participating in an election for the first time. He also noted that across Queens, the 31st Assembly District had the highest rate of ballots thrown out, over 31%.

“I’m honored to be the first Guyanese endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party and saddened that the 2nd largest immigrant group in Queens will continue to be unrepresented in government,” David said. “I will remain involved in bringing resources to the district and we must all keep fighting for progress.”