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Former Queens resident hopes to become first Latina, queer woman elected as lieutenant governor

lieutenant governor
Ana Maria Archila (QNS file photo)

Ana Maria Archila has dedicated her life to advocating for immigrants like herself who struggle to make it in New York City. Archila is now hoping to advocate on a much grander scale in the office of lieutenant governor alongside gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams. 

If elected, Archila would make history as the first immigrant, queer woman to hold the office.

Archila grew up in Colombia and moved to New York when she was 17. She has been a community organizer for 20 years, primarily building organizations rooted in helping working-class immigrant communities. Archila founded Make the Road New York, which has become a powerhouse known for its influential activism across the state. 

“My work has been dedicated to building people’s power so that our communities are valued, respected, taken seriously in all the policy debates that impact our lives,” Archila said. 

Archila said that her campaign and the potential historic election will only be meaningful if it shifts perspective and political priorities. 

“My candidacy is a candidacy that rejects sleepy politics of business as usual,” Archila said. “It’s a candidacy that says we have to act with urgency to address the things that matter most to people. We have to have a government that is deeply focused on the priorities of regular people and not the interest of real estate moguls and billionaires.” 

Archila lived in Astoria for 14 years and built Make the Road New York. In recent years, Make the Road New York has most notably succeeded in securing $3 billion in state funds for excluded workers through its activism. She said that her work was inspired by her own experience as an immigrant. 

“When I came to the U.S. I had the experience that most immigrants go through — being deeply uprooted, not having many relationships or connections,” Archila said. “Feeling foreign, feeling like a guest and not really being able to communicate really shaped my early years.”

Archila gained national recognition in 2018 after confronting Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator amidst the Brett Kavanaugh appointment hearings. Flake supported the Supreme Court nominee despite Christine Blasey Ford accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. 

“I have two children,” Archila said to the senator. “I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl.”

After that, Archila was invited to the State of the Union in 2019 by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as her personal guest. 

After Archila received the endorsement of the Working Families Party in February, she formed an alliance with Williams ahead of the Democratic primary in June. Ocasio-Cortez has yet to show her support for the pair. 

Archila said that she and Williams are focusing their campaign around housing, as rising costs have crushed New York families. The running mates proposed a plan to create 1 million affordable homes statewide.

The state Democratic Committee has endorsed Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, who is running alongside Governor Kathy Hochul. The governor appointed Benjamin when she took over the office in the summer of 2021.

Reports came out in March that Benjamin is being investigated by federal prosecutors and the FBI for potential fraudulent donations to his unsuccessful campaign for New York City comptroller last year. 

Gubernatorial candidates and their choice for lieutenant governor appear on separate ballot lines in primary elections and winning candidates are occasionally forced into general election tickets with their opponent’s pick for lieutenant governor.

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