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Forest Hills native challenges incumbent for Assembly seat in Democratic primary

Forest Hills
Forest Hills resident and labor lawyer Ethan Felder is challenging Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi for his seat in the Assembly. (Photo courtesy of Felder’s campaign)

Assembly member Andrew Hevesi of District 28 — representing Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Ridgewood and Middle Village — has a new challenger in the Democratic primary taking place in late June. 

Ethan Felder, a lifelong resident of Forest Hills, has been a labor lawyer for the past six years, representing groups like transit workers, firefighters and healthcare workers — what he likes to call “our essential union families.”  

Felder launched his campaign just four weeks ago and has made public safety the forefront of his platform. He plans to focus on confronting mental health to prevent crime and support law enforcement. He also mentioned he wants to put a stop to the Kew Gardens jail, which would be 19 stories high and hold 886 inmates on Union Turnpike.

“A whole lot of people don’t feel safe riding our subway right now or walking outside at night across this Assembly district,” Felder said. “It’s the number one issue I hear at doorsteps and it’s one I share riding the subway myself.”

Hevesi has held his seat in the Assembly for 17 years, recently serving as the Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families. Hevesi has been focusing on mitigating childhood trauma in this new position he was appointed to in January of 2021.

Felder said that though Hevesi is the incumbent, he feels the district needs a change in leadership.

“I’m closer to the everyday lives of the citizens of this district and I think my views moreso than Hevesi’s reflect the viewpoint of this district,” Felder said. “I’ve been representing people and families and understanding their everyday stresses in a far deeper way than someone who has been up in Albany for the last 17 years.”

Felder is a trial attorney at 32BJ SEIU, where he advocates on behalf of working families, fighting for their dignity and livelihoods. He has also been a part of Community Board 6, and a community activist organizing rallies against hate and racism. 

“I’m trying to give voice to communities that have not always had a seat at the table,” Felder said. 

Felder attended Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, where he credits learning the responsibility of one’s civic duty. He went on to study at Cornell University and earned his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He then worked on Wall Street for some time, which then launched the next phase of his career as an attorney fighting for underrepresented communities. 

“When I was in corporate America, I saw the insecurity in people’s lives in terms of being subject to layoffs and not having much control over their futures,” Felder said. “There came a certain point where I thought: what was my purpose and what did I get all this education for? I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be an advocate for others and fight for other people’s dignity.”

Felder’s pro bono work led him to win a case protecting the voting rights of 6,000 people in Lefrak City after the Board of Elections tried to move a polling site that had been in place for 50 years.

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