Three key Queens State Assembly primary races that could shake up Albany representation

In this June’s primary election, three State Assembly races in Queens could bring new leaders to Albany.
Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

While many seats in New York’s primary election this June are uncontested, three State Assembly races in Queens could alter the borough’s representation in Albany. 

Both one-term and long-term incumbents are facing fresh challengers who are hoping to snag the seat and address issues such as housing, public safety, climate change and labor. Some races appear to be tighter and more controversial than others. 

To find out if your representation is up for grabs, view your official sample ballot or find your local polling site from the Board of Elections with their address look-up tool. 

Early voting is already underway and will run until June 23. Election day is on June 25.

35th Assembly District

In the 35th Assembly District, which encompasses Elmhurst, Corona, Forest Hills and Rego Park, the incumbent who held the seat for 30 years is retiring. 

One of two Democratic party candidates is Hiram Monserrate – a veteran, former police officer and the first Latino elected to public office in Queens. Running against him is Larinda Hooks – a district leader, longtime community organizer and civil rights advocate. 

Hooks has secured several notable endorsements in the borough, including Congressman Gregory Meeks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senator Jessica Ramos and Council Member Francisco Moya. She also has the support of the incumbent, Jeffrion Aubry. 

“I’ve worked closely with her to deliver for our communities and I can promise you that she is the most honest, experienced and qualified candidate in this race,” said Aubry in a statement that also announced his retirement. 

But even without the longtime incumbent’s endorsement, Monserrate has held several elected seats in Queens, including as a council member for six years and state senator for a decade, before being appointed district leader in 2018. But since he was expelled from the state senate for an assault conviction, he has lost several elections on the city and state levels. 

37th Assembly District

In the 37th Assembly District, which includes Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City and parts of Maspeth, Assemblymember Juan Ardila is running to hold onto his seat despite long-standing controversies. 

Less than a year after winning the 2022 election with major support from the party, Ardila faced several sexual assault allegations. Many elected officials at various levels asked him to step down, including Governor Kathy Hochul and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but he continues to deny the allegations. Many of his peers have accused him of being ineffective as a representative, given the stonewalling. 

Running for the seat is Claire Valdez, a Texas native, Democratic socialist and union organizer who is backed by the Working Families Party. She is running on a platform that emphasizes investments in fighting climate change, delivering affordable housing and building worker power. 

Also running against Ardila is Johanna Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident who has worked in various aspects of the legal system, from a private attorney representing survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack to advocating for victims of sexual assault under the District Attorney. 

Valdez and Carmona recently participated in two public forums, where they expanded on their stances and answered questions from the audience. Despite being invited, incumbent Ardila did not attend either forum, which he said was due to commitments in Albany. 

40th Assembly District   

Incumbent Ron Kim, who currently represents Flushing and Linden Hill in the 40th Assembly District, is facing a more conservative challenger in a district that has grown redder

Running against Kim, who has maintained his seat since 2013, is Yi Andy Chen – an immigrant, small business owner in the healthcare industry and a former NYPD auxiliary police officer. He has secured a slew of endorsements from local Asian American organizations, as well as the Police Benevolent Association and the Stonewall Democrats of NYC. 

In the last election, Chen came in a close second against current Council Member Shekar Krishnan to represent Jackson Heights. 

The other candidate, Dao Yin, has served as a community activist in Queens for the past two decades since immigrating from China. Earlier this month the New York Times reported that Yin abused New York’s matching funds campaign system by faking donations from small donors to raise $162,000 from taxpayers. 

Yin’s team released a statement shortly after denying the use of fake donors and accusing his political opponents of attempting to smear his image. 

“Mr. Yin’s campaign office, with unwavering confidence, asserts that they have adhered to all the necessary procedures to meet the matching funds requirements,” read the statement, adding that they are working with the state’s campaign finance board to rectify possible “inadvertent errors.”