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Working Families Party Rejects Queens Chapter Pick in Western Queens Council Race

Queens Council District 26 candidate Julie Won (Julie Won for City Council)

Feb. 25, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A Queens council candidate is taking aim at the Working Families Party after the progressive powerhouse rejected the advice of the Queens chapter to endorse her– and went with Amit Bagga.

Julie Won, who is running to represent the 26th Council District, got the support of the Queens chapter of the Working Families Party (WFP). However, the WFP’s Regional Advisory Council landed on a different candidate than the chapter’s recommendation.

Won said the party’s decision was “bitterly disappointing.”

“I was honored to have the overwhelming support of the WFP’s Queens chapter and it stings to see their vote overturned by the party’s regional affiliates,” she said in a statement shared with the Queens Post and posted to Twitter. “It is painfully clear that the political machine is alive and well.”

The Queens chapter’s endorsement pick is only a recommendation.

The New York WFP didn’t choose Won as their second-choice endorsement either. Instead they went with Jesse Laymon as their number two endorsement.

Won, a tech consultant and Queens Community Board 2 member, said she was not shocked at the disparity of the endorsements.

“I am disappointed but I am not surprised,” she said. “This system was never built for me. I am an immigrant. I am a woman. I am a tenant. Unlike my opponents I do not have friends in high places. Unlike my opponents I still work a full time job to pay off my student loans and support my family.”

She also attacked Bagga, who previously worked at City Hall under Mayor Bill de Blasio, of not being a true progressive because she said he failed to stand up to the mayor for his handling of the NYPD this summer.

Bagga didn’t co-sign a letter to de Blasio demanding he hold the NYPD accountable for aggressive policing of the protests across the city in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The June letter was signed by more than 700 former and current de Blasio staffers.

Won said Bagga failed to join 1,000 current and former staffers as they marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall to express their disappointment at de Blasio’s administration as well.

“I don’t believe anyone who continues to stand by the mayor after watching what happened this summer can call themselves a true progressive,” she said.

However, Bagga said he has proven his position as a progressive leader through his track record of achievements supporting New Yorkers of color.

“I’m a queer brown kid who has spent 14 years fighting tooth and nail for Black, Brown, and immigrant New Yorkers, from reuniting hundreds of immigrant families, to implementing Paid Sick Leave for 3 million New Yorkers, creating first-of-their-kind protections for fast food workers, laundry workers, freelancers; and successfully battling COVID-19 and daily attacks by Donald Trump to secure billions for our economic future and preserve our power in Congress,” he said in a statement. “This is what doing the work looks like; this is what waging the battles looks like; this is what a progressive looks like.”

Won accused the de Blasio administration of repaying Bagga’s loyalty by pressuring WFP affiliates to endorse him.

“The mayor and his enablers repaid [Bagga’s] twisted loyalty by pressuring WFP affiliates and other organizations to endorse their chosen, machine-made candidate—and steamroll the Queens chapter’s grassroots voice,” she said.

The Mayor’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Working Families Party said it decides who to endorse based on input from several sources, including borough chapters and dozens of grassroots organizations which make up the WFP’s Regional Advisory Council.

“The Working Families Party works to identify and elect grassroots leaders rooted in their communities who will fight tirelessly to build a New York that delivers for working people,” said NY WFP Queens Chapter Co-Chair, and NYC Regional Advisory Council co-chair Bright Limm.

“To make those decisions, we hold a participatory, multi-step endorsement process that includes borough chapter recommendations, as well as endorsement discussions and a vote among the WFP’s Regional Advisory Council.”

Make the Road Action, a group dedicated to building political power rooted in immigrant communities and working-class communities of color, is one of the organizations that participated in the WFP endorsement process.

A Queens resident and member of the Make the Road Action defended the party’s endorsement.

“The Working Families Party’s inclusive endorsement process centers on the grassroots organizations and community members who help make up the party, and we’re proud of our role in helping support Amit and other progressive candidates of color who will transform the political landscape of our borough and City,” the member Aracelly Cantos said.

She also defended Amit’s position as a progressive leader.

“Amit has been a close ally to progressive community groups for more than a decade,” she said. “He’s stood with us on crucial campaigns, including immigration reform, paid sick days for New York City workers, justice for car wash workers, and ensuring our communities were counted in the 2020 Census.”

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