Claire Valdez takes Assembly District 37 race in western Queens, championing Democratic socialism

Photo by Kara McCurdy/ClaireforQueens

Claire Valdez emerged victorious in the Assembly District 37 race, winning by a substantial 27-point margin over Johanna Carmona— and thumping the incumbent Juan Ardila, who generated about 10% of the votes.

Valdez, who brought in 58.6% of the vote, led in every precinct in Ridgewood and Long Island City and all but one in Sunnyside.

“Tonight we proved that a different kind of political vision is not only possible in Queens, it’s a mandate,” said Valdez. “We put tenant power on the ballot, we put stronger labor protections on the ballot, we put a ceasefire on the ballot, and we put democratic socialism on the ballot.”

Valdez, a union organizer originally from Texas, relied on the support of many neighbors who favored her candidacy as a Democratic Socialist. Her campaign was outspoken in criticizing corporate donors, especially from real estate conglomerates and pro-Israel groups. She also highlighted her push to advocate for minimum-wage workers, additional union-based job opportunities, and housing rights. Additionally, Valdez’s stance on climate change and disapproval of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to halt congestion pricing resonated with many voters.

“I’ve been so moved by the support of hundreds of working-class New Yorkers who powered our campaign. And I am looking forward to joining my colleagues in Albany to fight for a New York where everyone, not just the ultra-rich, can thrive,” Valdez added.

Her main opponent, Johanna Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident and attorney with a background in public service, focused on affordable housing, access to education, and public safety. Despite Carmona’s efforts, Valdez’s message and campaign strategy proved more attractive to the growing number of progressive voters in District 37. Carmona brought in nearly 32% of the vote.

The defeat of incumbent Juan Ardila, who won the office in 2022 with the backing of high-profile progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, marked a significant shift. Ardila’s campaign was marred by controversy, including sexual assault allegations.

Valdez’ victory continues to mark the left-leaning shift in the district, as her progressive platform and emphasis on democratic socialism resonated with the community. “Voters agreed — it’s time to build a Queens powered by working people and reject the influence of the ultra-wealthy in our democratic process,” said Valdez.