Southern Queens civic groups to host District 32 City Council candidates forum

Democratic candidate Felicia Singh, Republican Joann Ariola and third-party candidate Keniche Wilson will participate in the forum at Medina Hall on Thursday. (Photos courtesy of candidates)

A coalition of southern Queens civic associations will hold a candidates forum next week in what may be the most consequential race in the current election cycle.

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association and the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol, in conjunction with the Ozone Park Kiwanis, and the Ozone Park Howard Beach Woodhaven Lions Club, are presenting the first forum for the District 32 race to replace Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

Democratic candidate Felicia Singh, Republican Joann Ariola and third-party candidate Keniche Wilson will participate in the forum at Medina Hall, located at 76-15 101st Ave. in Ozone Park on Thursday, July 29.

“This is the single biggest election for our community since 2009, 12 very long years ago,” the coalition said. “The format will be simple and this is not a debating type program. The community leaders will ask only relevant and important questions concerning the area they represent and our district. Only questions that a council person has power over will be asked. The public will be able to hand in questions and we will assess them as we go along. This will be a controlled environment.”

Singh declared victory in the Democratic primary over Howard Beach community leader Mike Scala and will be running in the general election to be the first woman, as well as first Indo-Caribbean and first South Asian person, to represent District 32 in City Council.

“What we accomplished was a huge achievement. District 32 has been isolated for far too long, and that is why we’ve had Republican representation when Democrats outnumber them three to one,” Singh said in a message to her supporters. “We’ve proved what we can do, and now we want your support to do it again for the general. If you want to see our communities fully funded and supported, then help us flip the last Republican-held City Council seat in Queens.”

Singh is an Ozone Park educator and daughter of working-class immigrants endorsed by the Working Families Party, 32BJ SEIU, 21 in ‘21, New York Immigration Coalition and many other organizations.

Standing in her way is Ariola, the Queens GOP chairwoman and Howard Beach civic leader, who was endorsed by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association this week.

“I’m deeply honored and thankful to be endorsed by the UFOA and its more than 8,000 members, many of whom live here in the 32nd Council District,” Ariola said. “These men and women put their lives on the line 24 hours a day in the most dangerous situations to keep New Yorkers safe and I am truly honored by their support.”

She is also endorsed by the PBA, the Detective’s Endowment Association, the Sergeants Benevolent Association and many other uniformed service unions.

Meanwhile, Wilson, the Community Board 9 chairman, rounds out the field of candidates vying to represent Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the western portion of the Rockaway Peninsula.

The candidate forum will be carried live on Facebook in more than 50 groups and pages, and it will be rebroadcast on Oct. 20, according to the organizers. Parking is available at Medina Hall. A social and dinner begins at 6 p.m. and the forum is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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