Western Queens Assembly candidates tackle key issues in Long Island City

Juan Ardila presents his five-point plan to create thousands of jobs by funding climate and resilience projects. (Courtesy of Ardila’s campaign)

Two of the Democratic candidates vying to replace longtime Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan are tackling key issues that are top-of-mind among Long Island City residents: public safety and climate change.

Nolan has endorsed Sunnyside attorney Johanna Carmona to succeed her in the race to represent District 37 in Albany. The former Community Board 2 member organized a public safety forum with the 108th Precinct that was to take place on April 14.

Residents of Hunters Point have complained for years about the rowdy and sometimes dangerous behavior of visitors to the neighborhood’s waterfront parks and the February hammer attack at the Queens Plaza subway station has increased alarm over violent crime in the community.

“I initiated the public safety forum because I met so many residents who expressed their concerns regarding safety,” Carmona said. “I believe that there should be an open dialogue and relationship between law enforcement and the community. I’ve volunteered with the 108th Precinct for many years and I believe having the residents involved is highly effective. I’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of building these community relations.”

Assembly candidate Johann Carmona organized a public safety forum after hearing complaints from Long Island City residents while canvassing signatures last month. (Photo courtesy of Carmona’s campaign)

The 108th Precinct withdrew out of fairness to the other candidates in the race and will take part in a regularly scheduled town hall at the New York Irish Center at 10-40 Jackson Ave. on April 27 beginning at 7 p.m.

“As an organizer and lifelong Queens resident, I plan to be an active participant in the meeting on the 27th, listening to and learning from community members,” Carmona said. “And I invite my opponents to join me and engage with residents over their concerns.”

One of those opponents, Maspeth native and community activist Juan Ardila, unveiled his five-point plan for a 100% renewable energy economy for New York and creating thousands of jobs by pumping state funding into local climate and resiliency projects.

“The residents of Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside deserve a representative who understands the impact of climate change,” Ardila said. “For far too long, fossil fuel companies have profited off the destruction of our planet. With storms like Hurricane Ida and Superstorm Sandy, we know what happens when our leaders fail to take action and fail to make climate a top priority. We can’t afford to wait.”

Ardila presented his plan Monday at Gantry Plaza State Park, which was inundated by Sandy’s flood surge that damaged many homes and businesses in the community. In addition to funding a 100% renewable energy economy, Ardila called for making all buildings electric, planting trees, expanding parks and cleaning up the waterfront, and forcing polluters to pay and invest in clean energy jobs.

“The floods we experienced in western Queens these past few years are just the tip of the melting iceberg that is climate change,” Democratic District Leader Émilia Decaudin said. “We need bold, transformative environmental leadership in order to combat it, and Juan is the only candidate in this race whose plan includes both the steps we need to take, as well as the tools we need to pay for a Green New Deal in New York by taxing the rich.”

Ardila’s plan also called for the closing of all diesel-fueled and dirty-emission power plants along the western Queens waterfront.

“My neighbors in Ravenswood and Dutch Kills have been suffering from fossil fuel pollution for too long,” Democratic District Leader Jesse Laymon said. “If the Green New Deal is to become more than just a slogan, it needs to start in dense, diverse neighborhoods like ours, with the closure of dirty power plants and replacement with renewable energy. Juan Ardila understands the urgency of climate action on a local level, and that’s why I’m supporting him for the State Assembly.”

Sunnyside community leader and attorney Brent O’Leary and Jim Magee, another lawyer from Sunnyside, also filed petitions to run in the Democratic primary on June 28.