Races for the City Council often are contentious; the Democratic primary in the 21st District has become flat-out vicious.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) told the Chronicle that the choice between himself and former councilman and state senator Hiram Monserrate is clear and not even close.
“For the last seven years, I’ve been leading landmark legislation, fighting for immigrants’ rights; workers’ rights, passing real criminal justice reforms ... increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour — there is no comparison between myself and my opponent.”
He refers to Monserrate, who was expelled from the state senate for assaulting his girlfriend and served two years in prison for theft of funds while a city councilman, as “a violent, corrupt criminal actor with no business being anywhere near public service.”
Moya made the charges at an interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board. Monserrate’s campaign did not respond to requests for a similar sitdown.
Moya has received pretty much every major endorsement in the race, including Mayor de Blasio and Julissa Ferreras Copeland (D-East Elmhurst). Ferreras-Copeland, the current Council member in the 21st District, chose not to run for reelection.
Moya has spent some time on the defensive in the last two weeks, with Monserrate filing complaints with state and city authorities over a Long Island City apartment Moya purchased while a congressional employee.
The terms of a mortgage from a federal credit union required him to use the space as his principal residence for at least a year. Only months later, the seat in the 39th District representing his native Corona opened up, with petitions listing his residence as Corona.
“I live in Corona,” he said. “I’ve never hidden that. I list the apartment on my financial disclosure forms, as I am required to do every year.” And, he said, he has a document from the bank that took over his mortgage and dropped the residency requirement.
Keeping long-term residents in their homes and encouraging young residents to stay, he said, is the first priority among many in the district.
“It’s going to be affordable housing for sure,” he said.
Moya said other issues, such as fully funding district schools and lowering property taxes are tied together.
:We’re paying way too high property taxes in our community,” he said. We need to redo the way the [city’s] Department of Finance is actually picking neighborhoods to pay higher property taxes.
“When people in Park Slope, Brooklyn are paying lower taxes than people in Corona, that’s problematic.”
Perhaps no issue is closer to Moya’s heart than the Dream Act, which would help fund college scholarships for children of parents who entered the country illegally. It routinely sails through the Democrat-controlled Assembly, but does not see the light of day in the Repubican-led Senate.
He sees two hopes in the coming year — Gov. Cuomo placing the measure in his budget request, or the possibility of beating an incumbent Republican senator, such as on Long Island.
A bill on worker safety, which has not yet passed the Senate, would significantly hike fines and criminal penalties when deemed applicable in the deaths of construction workers.
“We have had 35 deaths in New York City in the last two years,” he said. “If that was any other profession — teachers, nurses, doctors with 35 in two years, we’d be having hearings right now.
And with public transportation at a premium in his district, Moya is in no mood to keep the peace in the sandbox as Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio argue over funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“I think you have two leaders who need to put their personal disagreements aside and really start putting people in the community first,” he said.
He also favors closing Rikers Island as quickly as possible.