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Working Families Party Endorses Candidates in Multiple Queens Council Races

District 26 Candidates Amit Bagga (left) and Jesse Laymon (right) (via respective campaigns)

Feb. 25, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The Working Families Party announced a new round of endorsements in several Queens council races today.

The influential progressive party endorsed candidates in Council districts 19, 20 and 26 and made its very first ranked-choice endorsement in the latter.

The Working Families Party picked Amit Bagga as its top choice for the District 26 council seat and Jesse Laymon as its second choice to coincide with New York’s new ranked-choice voting system. The new voting system — rolled out this year — allows voters to rank candidates from one to five in order of preference.

“Our ranked choice #1 is Amit Bagga, a bold activist who led NYC’s historic census count this year with an unwavering drive to better serve historically marginalized Black, brown, & immigrant NYers,” the Working Families Party wrote.

Bagga, a former City Hall staffer who recently led the city’s 2020 Census campaign as deputy director, has received multiple endorsements from progressive leaders such as State Sen. Jessica Ramos and activist Cynthia Nixon.

He said he was grateful to be the Working Families Party pick to represent Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and a portion of Astoria in the City Council.

“I’m deeply honored to have the support of Working Families Party in our collective fight for opportunity, dignity, and power for all New Yorkers, and together, with the people of Queens leading the way, we will re-write the social contract between government and communities to deliver justice for all,” Bagga said.

Laymon, a progressive organizer and job training educator, said he was honored to be endorsed by the party as well.

“It’s an honor to have been chosen as one of the candidates endorsed by the Working Families Party – in New York State there’s been no more consistent effective force for progressive change than WFP,” Laymon said. “I’ve been proud to be part of WFP’s campaigns in years past, and I’m excited to have them be part of mine this year.”

Laymon and Bagga are just two of 18 Democrats vying for the seat currently held by term-limited Jimmy Van Bramer. Van Bramer must vacate the seat at the end of the year and is running for the Queens Borough President position.

Meanwhile, the Working Families Party endorsed Austin Shafran for the 19th District seat representing Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba and Whitestone.

“Born & raised in the Bayside community he’s running to represent, Austin is going to bring his decades-long fight for education and housing equity to City Hall,” the Working Families Party said.

Shafran has years of experience as a government staffer at both the local and state level and is president of a political strategies firm.

The District 19 seat is currently held by term-limited Council Member Paul Vallone.

Lastly, the party endorsed John Choe for District 20, which covers downtown Flushing, Murray Hill and Queensboro Hill.

“As an immigrant & longtime resident of Mitchell-Linden himself, John is deeply committed to fighting for tenant protections, language access, & increased investment in healthcare for all NYers,” the Working Families Party said. “We’re thrilled to stand with his campaign.”

Choe is the executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and helped lead opposition to the Special Flushing Waterfront District development in the community.

The District 20 seat is currently filled by term-limited Council Member Peter Koo.

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