Democrats in the 30th Council District who vote in the primary on June 22 won’t be able to say they didn’t make a distinct choice on their ballots.
Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) is looking to defend his seat against challenger Juan Ardila of Maspeth.
Both say they have dedicated their careers to community service.
That is where any and all similarities end.
The term is for two years out of consideration for the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.
Holden had been a fixture with the Juniper Park Civic Association for more than 30 years when he won the seat four years go. After losing to then-Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley in a Democratic primary, he ran as a Republican and won the general election.
Holden said he is not differing his approach to work or campaigning in the last few weeks.
“What I’m doing is my job,” Holden said. “We’re obviously reaching out to constituents, residents of the district. Democrats, obviously. But I have my job every day, so there’s no distinction.”
Holden said a large part of his success, and one of his proudest achievements, has been the staff he was able to assemble.
“They’ve helped my constituents,” he said. “I think we’ve had more than 3,000 connections made with residents to help them. It’s been about $250,000 of money we’ve saved them, or got back for them when they’ve been scammed, or that was owed to them by the city state or federal government.”
The difference, he said, was in hiring residents of the community, people with a history of service on community boards and civic associations.
He also is proud of getting the promise of a new school with the development of a massive residential and commercial complex at 69-02 Queens Blvd. in Woodside.
“I said, ‘If you’re going to build a huge residential complex, I need a school,’” Holden said. “The School Construction Authority said they needed a K-5 building.”
Ardila, who formerly worked for Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), believes the district is ready for a change.
“My whole career has been about public service on different domains and policy spaces,” he said. “I’m home-grown in Maspeth.
Ardila said his priorities will include housing concerns for both tenants and homeowners. On the education front he wants to reduce overcrowding in classrooms and greatly expand availability of language programs.
“The district is nearly a 50-50 split,” Ardila said. “You have half the district speaking Spanish, Polish, Italian, Mandarin.”
Ardila, whose endorsements in include th eWorking Families Party, challenges Holden’s effectiveness.
“He changes when it’s convenient,” Ardila said. “He lost to Elizabeth Crowley in the primary then ran as a Republican and won with a slim margin. He quotes himself as a Democrat but legislated like a Republican. He’s isolated because he caucuses with people like Eric Ulrich and Joe Borelli. He works both parties but can’t pass laws. He’s a legislator who can’t legislate.”
Ardila also said he has raised money and endorsements from people, including Council members, who traditionally go with an incumbent.
He also believes Holden is out of touch with the district on things like immigration.
Holden wasn’t impressed with the critique.
“I’ve passed seven bills into law and have dozens pending,” Holden said. “I also caucus with the Democrats. Mr. Ardila has no clue what he’s talking bout. I have never missed or skipped a meeting. Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), the speaker, knows that I attend and I participate. Ardila says things that fit his agenda but it’s not based in reality.” He said his relationship with Johnson is very good.
“[Ardila’s] former boss is Brad Lander. His politics are probably closer to Speaker Johnson’s than mine, yet Brad Lander doesn’t have a committee chairmanship. Guess what — Bob Holden is a chairman, of the Technology Committee. And I was appointed by Corey Johnson. I got a chairmanship and his boss didn’t.” Holden also said the Democrats in the district voted to endorse him.
“They didn’t endorse a radical, except for the ultra-progressive socialists,” he said. “Maybe one percent of the residents in the district want to defund the police ... and I didn’t seek out the endorsement of Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens).”
This article has been edited to reflect that the race is in the 30th Council District. We regret the error.