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Two Candidates Get Big Name Endorsements in Quest for Western Queens Assembly Seat

Candidates Juan Ardila and Johanna Carmona (courtesy of the candidates)

April 25, 2022 By Christian Murray

Two candidates running for the District 37th Assembly seat got big name endorsements over the weekend.

Johanna Carmona was endorsed by Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, while Juan Ardila got the backing of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Meeks, who is the chairman of the Queens Democrats, made the announcement Sunday and describes Carmona as being “a daughter of Queens” who is committed to “progressive and common-sense legislation” that will improve the quality of life for residents in the district.

“I am proud and excited to endorse Johanna Carmona for New York State Assembly, representing Ridgewood, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Blissville, Woodside, and Maspeth in Albany,” Meeks said.

Johanna Carmona and Gregory Meeks

“Johanna has the real-world experience and street smarts Queens residents need. She has worked on behalf of first responders on 9/11 compensation, stood shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sexual assault and child abuse, and played a critical role in bringing local police officers and community members together to make Western Queens safer.”

The announcement follows on from two other recent endorsements she has secured—with Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who represents the Forest Hills area, and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan, both backing her campaign.

Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident, also has the support of the incumbent Catherine Nolan, who is not seeking reelection, and the Ridgewood Democratic Club.

Carmona, a lawyer who was an assistant district attorney in the special victims unit with the Kings County District Attorney’s office from 2017-2000, has the backing of moderate Democrats and the party establishment.

The announcement of the Meeks’ endorsement comes at the same time that Ardila announced that he has been endorsed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Jessica Ramos, Juan Ardila, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Donovan Richards and Catalina Cruz (L-R) at a campaign event for Ardila earlier this month (Instagram @juanardilanyc)

“Juan Ardila has always been a passionate advocate for the community,” Richards said in a statement. “He is a leader who understands the need for protecting tenants, expanding healthcare and fixing the climate crisis here in Queens. I’m excited to support Juan for Assembly because I know he will be a strong champion for progress in Albany.”

Ardila has the backing of many left-wing Democrats, such as State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Council Members Tiffany Cabán and Jennifer Gutiérrez, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, the Working Families Party, New York Immigration Action, Make the Road Action among others.

Ardila is a staffer at the Legal Aid Society and previously worked for then-City Councilmember Brad Lander, who is now Comptroller.

Brent O’Leary (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Brent O’Leary, a Long Island City resident and attorney who is also vying for the seat, said that he has not been endorsed by party leaders or left-wing Democrats.

“I am proud to state we are NOT backed by the county democratic machine nor the extremist left,” O’Leary said in a statement.

“I am a commonsense Democrat with common sense solutions to our rising crime and failing school system. Our campaign is not pushing extremist, out of touch ideas nor are we beholden to the interests of the local machines,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary has been endorsed by the 504 Democratic Club—which represents Democrats with disabilities— and the Asian American Chamber of Commerce which fights for small businesses.

Meanwhile, Jim Magee, a lifelong Sunnyside resident and attorney who is also running, has been endorsed by the New York State Court Officers Union.

Jim Magee going door to door gathering signatures. He secured more than 1,100 signatures to get on the ballot (Photo courtesy of Magee)

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