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Queens Chronicle

Najmi eyes seat held by D. Weprin

Glen Oaks lawyer seeks support from Democratic voters in Dist. 24

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Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:42 am, Thu May 15, 2014.

A possible contender for Assemblyman David Weprin’s District 24 seat has emerged, though he will not yet confirm he’s running.

Fellow Democrat Ali Najmi, an attorney from Glen Oaks, is holding a fundraiser in Manhattan on May 19 that he has posted on Facebook. The invitation mentions the state Legislature and four issues Najmi wants to address in Albany: economic development, education, housing and senior citizens.

The potential candidate did not return calls for this story and has declined to comment, according to published reports.

Weprin’s district stretches from Glen Oaks along the Grand Central Parkway to Briarwood and south on the Van Wyck Expressway to Richmond Hill. The area was redistricted in 2012 and now includes a substantial South Asian population.

During the debate over new district lines, Najmi worked with SEVA, a South Asian-West Indian nonprofit group, which successfully fought to include Richmond Hill.

But political insiders are asking where are his loyalties? Najmi previously worked for Weprin’s brother, Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), as a legislative director.

“Maybe he’s playing the ethnic card,” one insider said. “They never vote as a bloc anyway.”

Contacted Monday, Weprin said he believes in the democratic system and that anyone is free to run, but that he has been a champion of South Asians and in March was endorsed by the Bangladesh American Public Affairs Front, Alliance of South Asian American Labor and Sikh Cultural Society, among others.

The Alliance of South Asian American Labor said it has not made any endorsement yet, however. And the Sikh Cultural Society, as a religious organization, cannot make endorsements. Gurdev Singh Kang, president of the Society, said Friday that he is endorsing Weprin personally.

Weprin and his brother are party regulars and the assemblyman has already been endorsed by Borough President Melinda Katz and other party faithful. He seemed surprised that Najmi would oppose him.

Some speculated that the newcomer’s decision to run is an attempt to get his name out there for the future.

“People do what they think is good for them,” David Weprin said. “I take all challenges seriously and am working hard. I think I’ll do well.”

He is set to open a new district office in Richmond Hill on Atlantic Avenue on June 8.

Weprin is serving his second term in the Assembly and previously was a city Councilman for eight years.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Najmi has had a law practice in Kew Gardens since 2011. Prior to that he worked for Mark Weprin for a year. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and earned his law degree at the CUNY School of Law, then located at Queens College.

CORRECTIONS

Citing the lawmaker, this article originally said Assemblyman David Weprin had been endorsed by the Alliance of South Asian American Labor and Sikh Cultural Society. The ASAAL has not yet made an endorsement, however, and the SCS is a religious organization that cannot make one at all, though its president, Gurdev Singh Kang, is endorsing Weprin personally.

The article also originally said Ali Najmi had earned a law degree at Queens College. He actually earned it from the CUNY School of Law, which at the time was located on the Queens College campus.

We regret the errors.

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