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Long Island City resident launches campaign to become state’s first transgender lawmaker, eyes Juan Ardila’s Assembly seat

Émilia Decaudin,

Émilia Decaudin, pictured, a Long Island City resident, is aiming to become New York’s first transgender state legislator (Photo via Émilia for Assembly website)

July 11, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

A Long Island City resident is aiming to become New York’s first transgender state legislator, having announced a run for Assembly District 37, a seat currently held by embattled Assembly Member Juan Ardila, whose term has been shrouded with sexual abuse allegations.

Émilia Decaudin, 24, a transgender woman, launched the political campaign on July 11 on a Democratic socialist platform and is seeking to make New York more livable and inclusive. District 37 covers Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Sunnyside.

Decaudin, who is a Democratic Party district leader, wants hundreds of thousands of more affordable housing units built across the state and is looking to bring down the cost of living. Decaudin would be the first transgender person to serve in the New York state Legislature if elected.

“New York cannot be the sanctuary it claims to be if people can’t afford to live here,” Decaudin said. “The high cost of living and the lack of political courage is failing thousands of New Yorkers every day. We must use every tool at our disposal to ensure that every one of us has access to high quality and deeply affordable housing.”

Decaudin is also calling for more social and publicly-owned housing to tackle the housing crisis, as well as eliminating barriers to constructing dense, mixed-income development.

Decaudin also says tackling climate change is a centerpiece of the recently launched campaign.

“We owe ourselves and future generations a world with clean air, safe temperatures, and dry homes,” Decaudin said. “New York state not only has the ability to become a leader in renewable energy production and environmental resiliency, but the duty to do so in an equitable and efficient manner.”

A city law called Local Law 97 will go into effect next year that requires building owners such as co-ops to cut their carbon emissions to a pre-determined amount or face hefty penalties. Some co-op owners say they fear paying massive costs to comply with the law,

Decaudin supports a bill by Assembly Member Edward Braunstein that would provide many co-op and condo buildings with tax abatements for capital improvements while trying to comply with Local Law 97.

Decaudin, who grew up in Westchester County to French immigrant parents, was elected to the New York State Democratic Committee in 2018.

The trans rights activist came out as transgender in 2019 and spearheaded a successful effort to amend the State Committee’s rules to allow for non-binary residents to run for committee slots, which had previously been restricted to male and female Democrats only.

Decaudin also worked to remove gender requirements for county committee positions at the Kings County Democratic Committee and helped introduce a State Committee resolution to formally censure then-Governor Andrew Cuomo in February 2021 for mishandling COVID-19 fatality data for long-term-care facility residents.

Decaudin is the Democratic District Leader for Assembly District 37. Decaudin and Melissa Sklarz are the state’s first trans district leaders.

Decaudin is looking to take Assembly Member Juan Ardila’s seat, although it is unclear if Ardila is seeking re-election.

Ardila has been accused of inappropriately touching one woman on a couch while she was intoxicated at a November 2015 party and forcing himself on another woman in the bathroom that same night. He initially offered an apology and said he took responsibility for his actions but then denied them after he released the details of a self-funded investigation into the incidents.

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. Furthermore, 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

Should Decaudin take the District 37 seat, it would be another big win for democratic socialists in western Queens, with state lawmakers Kristen González, Jessica González-Rojas and Zohran Mamdani already in office, as well as Astoria Council Member Tiffany Cabán.

The Democratic primary is set for June 2024, although a bill passed by the state senate and assembly would bring it forward to April, should Gov. Kathy Hochul sign the legislation.

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