Queens Village attorney Munir Avery at first embraced being an underdog when he decided to challenge state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) in the 14th District.
And while Smith still has the benefits of incumbency and former Councilman Leroy Comrie has money, support and name recognition, Avery, 36, said he does not know that the underdog status still applies.
“We have a grassroots organization,” Avery said. “We have people out knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending park cleanups ... We have 30 people running for district leader positions. All of them are going out to the neighborhoods to make sure people get out and vote.”
Avery also said his campaign has made inroads into church and mosque groups, as well as the district’s multiple immigrant communities. At candidate forums, he has said he does not see where Smith or Comrie have done what is needed to best serve the community.
Avery’s law practice generally deals with the needs of the elderly, such as estates, trusts and other matters.
But he said he was moved to choose law — and his years as an assistant district attorney — by his view of how minority communities were treated by the criminal justice system once they were caught up in it.
“I felt very deeply that I wanted to be able change the system,” he said. “If you are defense attorney, defending people’s constitutional and civil rights, you can make an impression. But I realized if I was in trouble for a crime that I did not commit, I would want a prosecutor who could read the case and dismiss it if there was not enough evidence. I had that discretion. I could be inside making changes to the system.”