Ridgewood woman launches campaign to unseat scandal-scarred Assemblyman Juan Ardila

Ridgewood resident Claire Valdez announces her candidacy for New York Assembly District 37.
Photo by Kara McCurdy

Ridgewood union organizer, artist and democratic socialist Claire Valdez has become the third woman to launch a campaign to unseat Assemblyman Juan Ardila, whose first term in Albany has been mired by sexual abuse allegations.

Valdez announced her candidacy on Aug. 30 for New York Assembly District 37, to represent the western Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ridgewood and Maspeth which is home to Ardila, who has dodged calls to step down after being accused of sexual assault by two women in March. Ardila has denied the allegations of inappropriately touching one woman on a couch while she was intoxicated at a Fordham University party in November 2015 party and forcing himself on another woman in the bathroom that same night.

Ardila has effectively been shunned by his party and dozens of elected officials have called for him to resign, including Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The alleged victims have also called for him to step down, while Queens Community Board 2 passed a “no confidence” resolution on his ability to represent his constituents

“I’m running to represent Assembly District 37 because our community deserves an experienced representative who isn’t too busy dealing with personal scandals to get to work,” Valdez said. “We deserve good jobs with security and dignity, free and guaranteed healthcare, and the right to stay in our homes. As a union member, I’ve seen how corporate bosses try to shortchange my neighbors, but I also know how much power we hold when we organize together and fight back.”

Ridgewood resident Claire Valdez announces her candidacy for New York Assembly District 37.Photo by Kara McCurdy

QNS reached out to Ardila and is awaiting a response.

Valdez is a longtime member and the current Unit Chair for Columbia Support Staff, UAW Local 2110. She is also a member of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America, having previously served in elected leadership as the chapter’s Membership Coordinator.

Last year, Valdez was a field coordinator for the Samy Nemir Olivares campaign in a neighboring Assembly district. She is currently part of NYC-DSA’s Union Power Campaign, supporting striking workers, canvassing with the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee, and fighting to pass the Secure Jobs Act, which would protect New York City workers from unjust firings.

“In my years in DSA, I’ve spent countless hours talking to New Yorkers all over the city,” Valdez said. “We share the same fears: rising rent, rising costs, and stagnating wages that can’t keep up with either. In Queens, our neighborhoods are being devastated by real estate developers while our rent-stabilized housing stock vanishes. For too long, the real estate industry and the ultra-wealthy have pushed for massive disinvestment in institutions that serve New Yorkers like the MTA, public housing, and our schools. I’m running as part of a grassroots movement of working people who are fighting for the world we all deserve.“

Valdez joins Democratic district leader Emilia Decaudin and housing advocate and educator Hailie Kim who launched campaigns to challenge Ardila next year.