June 7, 2021 By Christina Santucci
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed more than a dozen Queens candidates for City Council over the weekend – through her political action committee (PAC), Courage to Change.
She announced the PAC’s preferences during a rally Saturday outside City Hall with 60 Democratic Council candidates – including 18 from Queens. All had received a “perfect score” on a questionnaire her PAC created, and each candidate pledged to support objectives like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and Abolish ICE.
While the Congresswoman did not, technically, endorse those seeking the Council seats, her PAC said that voters “can cast their ballots knowing that these candidates demonstrate an unwavering commitment” to progressive values.
“When voters see that a candidate has taken the Courage to Change Pledge, they know that the candidate has committed to supporting policies that prioritize working-class New Yorkers in the pursuit of social, economic and racial justice,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.
In some Queens Council races, one candidate got the nod. The PAC backed John Choe in Flushing’s District 20, Jaslin Kaur in northeast Queens’ District 23, Aleda Gagarin in Forest Hills’ District 29 and Felicia Singh in Howard Beach’s District 32.
Ingrid Gomez and Juan Ardilla received support in their bids to unseat incumbent Councilmembers Francisco Moya and Bob Holden respectively – as did Moumita Ahmed, who is running to replace Councilman James Gennaro after losing a special election to him earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the PAC listed multiple candidates in several races. Both Shekar Krishnan and Carolyn Tran scored support in the District 25 race for Councilmember Danny Dromm’s position.
Seven candidates – Amit Bagga, Jonathan Bailey, Jesse Laymon, Julia Forman, Julie Won, Brent O’Leary and Hailee Kim – received backing for the District 26 seat, now held by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
In Astoria’s District 22 – previously occupied by Councilmember Costa Constantinides until earlier this year – Tiffany Caban was ranked as the first choice and Evie Hantzopoulos as second. This was the only Queens seat where candidates were ranked in order of preference.
Following the event with the Council candidates, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Maya Wiley as her pick in the Democratic mayoral primary.
“The time has come to join together as a movement. We have an option of a candidate who can center people, racial justice, economic justice, and climate justice. A candidate that didn’t just come up to run for mayor, but has experience,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “That candidate is Maya Wiley and I will be ranking her as my number one choice.”
The Congress member noted that she may announce her preference for additional mayoral ballot rankings in the coming days.
Early voting kicks off Saturday, and the Primary Election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 22.
Queens Council Candidates
District 20: John Choe
District 21: Ingrid Gomez
District 22: Tiffany Caban (first) and Evie Hantzopoulos (second)
District 23: Jaslin Kaur
District 24: Moumita Ahmed
District 25: Carolyn Tran and Shekar Krishnan
District 26: Amit Bagga, Jonathan Bailey, Jesse Laymon, Julia Forman, Julie Won, Brent O’Leary, Hailee Kim
District 29: Aleda Gagarin
District 30: Juan Ardilla
District 32: Felicia Singh