Ridgewood City Council candidate ‘regrets’ racist, anti-gay online comments he made as a teen

juan ardila
Juan Ardila is running to represent City Council District 30. (Photo courtesy of Juan Ardila’s Campaign)

Juan Ardila, a candidate for City Council in District 30 challenging incumbent Robert Holden, said he “regrets” the racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language he used in social media posts as a teenager, after they surfaced in news reports earlier this week. 

The New York Post reported on Ardila’s Facebook posts, in which he used an anti-Asian slur against Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, derogatory words against women, gay people, Polish people and Jews, as well as a purported use of the “N-word.” The now-deleted posts appear to have been posted 10 years ago, when Ardila, who is currently 27 years old, was in high school.

Ardila, who’s running a progressive campaign, doesn’t deny making the comments and apologized for the offensive language.

“As a high school student, I regret that I used offensive language in response to social media comments amongst classmates,” Ardila said. “I have dedicated my entire adult life to public service and the comments I said as a teenager are nowhere near reflective of the person I am today.”

Holden, a conservative Democrat, said he was “shocked and saddened” by the “vile language,” adding that he knows firsthand “the ugliness, fear and violence that racist attitudes cause” as the husband of an Asian American woman.

“While there is room on the Council and throughout our city for diversity of opinion and spirited debate on many issues, New Yorkers of all political stripes must stand united in condemnation of the hateful attitudes expressed by Ardila’s reprehensible words,” Holden said.

Ardila and Holden are both running as Democrats in the June primary to represent District 30, which encompasses Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a lifelong Ridgewood resident, joined former Assemblyman Mike Miller in saying that Ardila’s posts are enough to reject his candidacy.

“I am reminded of the extremely duplicitous behavior of Mr. Ardila when he came to the Ridgewood Democratic Club last year, before the COVID-19 outbreak,” Nolan said. “Because he was young, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but as the ignorant rhetoric demonstrated in his posts has shown, it seems that this young man has had difficulties with the truth, and his moral principles, for some time.”

Holden also called on all the organizations and elected officials who’ve endorsed Ardila to rescind their support. 

Holden has received endorsements from the United Federation of Teachers, NYPD Police Benevolent Association, and a slew of unions who represent firefighters and other laborers.

Ardila is backed by several influential organizations and unions, including the Working Families Party, 32BJ, 1199 SEIU, DC 37, Make the Road Action, and most recently the Stonewall Democrats of NYC, the city’s oldest gay Democratic club.

He’s also received the support of several progressive lawmakers, including state Senators Jessica Ramos and Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Councilmen Brad Lander and Jimmy Van Bramer.

Van Bramer, who’s running his own campaign for Queens borough president, told QNS that the words Ardila used as a teenager were “reprehensible,” but didn’t address Holden’s calls for his endorsements to be taken back.

“He has taken responsibility and apologized to me personally and to all rightfully offended and hurt by that language,” Van Bramer said. “I believe Juan when he says he would never use those words again and that they do not reflect the man he has become.”

Ardila’s campaign spokesperson Paul Henderson told QNS that his endorsements “remain fully supportive.”

Henderson accused Holden’s campaign of “digging up” comments from Ardila’s teen years as a “desperate attempt to make up for his own dismal record on supporting equality and opposing discrimination.”

“Bob has actively opposed rights for transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers, opposed prohibiting employment discrimination and harassment based on New Yorkers’ sexual and reproductive health decisions, and even quit the immigration committee in the City Council because of its support for immigrant communities,” Henderson said.

In response, Kevin Ryan, Holden’s campaign spokesperson said Ardila was “caught red-handed” making deplorable comments that are “indefensible.”

“It’s not surprising that Mr. Ardila is so desperate to distract from the hateful language he was caught posting as recently as when he was 20 years old and certainly not a kid, that he’s lying about Councilman Holden’s spotless record of public service to all New Yorkers,” Ryan said.

QNS was not able to verify Ryan’s claim that Ardila posted those comments when he was 20. According to screenshots published by the Post, the comments were made 10 to 11 years ago. Ryan did not provide evidence of such comments.

This story was updated on April 28 at 12 p.m.