Last Wednesday the group, formed by volunteers and staff from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 primary run, announced that it is backing John Choe in District 20, Aleda Gagarin in District 29, and Juan Ardila in District 30.
Shawna Morlock, co-chair of QUIP and a district leader in Astoria, said in a statement that the group is endorsing three “progressive fighters” who are also not taking campaign donations from real estate developers, police unions or top executives from fossil fuel companies.
“They have all shown up for their communities when the community has needed it most,” she said, “organizing for affordable housing, reliable mass transit and safe bike lanes, care for children and our elders, a Green New York and so much more.”
Choe, the executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and former chief of staff to then-councilman John Liu, would be the first Korean-American to be elected to the City Council.
He also ran in 2009 and lost to eventual Democratic nominee Yen Chou in a five-way primary. Chou then lost to current Councilman Peter Koo in the general election.
Most recently, Choe has vehemently opposed the Special Flushing Waterfront District (SFWD), which was passed by the City Council, and in favor of the Main Street busway, which is now in effect.
“With QUIP’s help, I will restore power to everyday New Yorkers, restructure our government and address the immediate needs of District 20 residents,” Choe said. “There’s too much at stake to do anything less.”
The field in District 20, which encompasses Flushing and parts of northeast Queens, includes congressional aide and attorney Sandra Ung, Uber driver Hailing Chen, former senior center director Neng Wang, and former candidates for Queens borough president Dao Yin and Anthony Miranda.
Gagarin, a community organizer and nonprofit leader, is a 15-year Kew Gardens resident, mother of three children and a CYO basketball coach. Her platform includes reallocating money from police and prisons to health care, housing and schools, universal child care and better education for all students.
“With multiple crises across public health, housing, policing and the environment, New York needs progressive leaders ready to tackle our most pressing problems on day one,” she said .
District 29 encompasses the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill. The current representative, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, is term-limited.
The race to succeed Koslowitz has a dozen candidates, including community organizer David Aronov, health care professional Avi Cyperstein, progressive activist Lynn Schulman, Kew Gardens resident Douglas Shapiro and Forest Hills Asian Association president Edwin Wong.
The last candidate endorsed by QUIP is Ardila, a program coordinator for the Legal Aid Society who previously worked for the Department of Education and the International Rescue Committee. If elected, Ardila would be the first Latino to represent District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood.
Ardila is running against Councilman Robert Holden, who is seeking a second term after he narrowly defeated Elizabeth Crowley in 2017.
“QUIP has prioritized candidates who put the needs and well-being of their community first,” Ardila said. “I am proud to have its endorsement of our campaign to bring equity and respect to the residents of District 30.”