Shafran, Weprin to endorse each other’s campaigns

Austin Shafran and David Weprin will endorse each other in their races for City Council and comptroller, respectively.
The will make the announcement at 3 p.m. today in northeast Queens.
More than 15 years ago, Shafran took a job with Weprin while the latter was serving his own stint on the City Council.
“He is an experienced and trusted leader and a valued member of our Queens community,” the current assemblyman said of Shafran. “He will make a terrific City Council member, one who will put the needs of his constituents first because he understands them and will fight each and every day for them.”
While on the City Council, Weprin served as chair of the Finance Committee, and Shafran said he watched firsthand as he guided the city through that fiscal crisis.
“There is no one I would rather have as our fiscal watchdog to help restore and rebuild our economy from the COVID crisis,” said Shafran. “From investing our pension funds to municipal bond and city contract oversight, David has decades of experience that I trust to protect the interests of my family and families like ours across the city.”
Shafran has already picked up dozens of endorsements in his big to replace Paul Vallone on the City Council.
They include Shafran has already secured the endorsements of the New York City Central Labor Council, 32BJ, Hotel Trades Council (HTC) District Council 37, NYS Nurses Association (NYSNA), Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1, and Teamsters Local 237, 817 and 831, and the United Federation of Teachers, as well as the support of State Senator John Liu and the Queens Democratic Party.

Liu, Meeks back Shafran in City Council race

Austin Shafran was joined by Congressman Gregory Meeks and State Senator John Liu outside the Bayside Long Island Railroad station last week. Both announced they were supporting Shafran’s bid for City Council.
“Having known Austin and his family for years and worked with him inside and outside of government, I know that he has the right experience and deep motivation to deliver for our communities in the City Council,” Liu said.
“We’ve seen what happens when certain power hungry politicians pull a bait-and-switch on voters,” he added. “And that’s why it’s important we elect Austin Shafran as the real and reliable Democrat that Northeast Queens deserves.”
The “power hungry politician” Liu is likely referring to is Shafran’s opponent, former state senator Tony Avella, who held the same northeast Queens City Council post from 2001 to 2009.
In 2014, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of renegade Democratic state senators in Albany who allied themselves with Republicans.
Avella and his colleagues dissolved the IDC in April of 2018, but the four years they caucused with Republicans was a major issue when Liu challenged Avella for the seat later that year.
Liu would eventually go on to win the Democratic Primary and eventually the post.
In addition to Avella, the other Democratic candidates in the race include Adriana Aviles, Francis Spangenberg, Richard Lee and Nabaraj KC.
Liu joins the Queens Democratic Party, several of the city’s largest labor unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU and District Council 37, and others in supporting Shafran’s campaign.
“John Liu is a force of nature, one of the most energetic and effective public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Shafran said. “As proud as I am to have his support in this campaign, I am even more honored to call him my friend and mentor.”
Meeks said Shafran feels the need to serve.
“Some people run for office because it’s about them,” he said. “Austin feels an obligation to give the people the voice then deserve and have earned.”
Shafran said he was just an “ordinary” guy who grew up in Bayside and still calls it home, and is focused on day-to-day concerns like improving education and increasing services for seniors.
“But I guess the ordinary things we do can be extraordinary in these trying moments,” he said. “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they come together to make their communities a better place.”
The Democratic Primary will be held on June 22. Early voting begins on June 12.

Menchaca endorses Yang for mayor

Brooklyn councilman and former mayoral hopeful Carlos Menchaca has endorsed frontrunner Andrew Yang for mayor. The announcement was made at an event in Red Hook Wednesday morning, and was simultaneously live-streamed on Yang’s YouTube channel.
Before dropping out of the race last month, Menchaca was one of the most left-leaning Democratic candidates and was often opposed to Yang’s more moderate stances.
At Wednesday’s event, however, the two men focused primarily on how their backgrounds and identities informed the endorsement.
“I connected to Andrew’s story, which is the story of an immigrant family,” said Menchaca, who is Mexican-American. “We share a lot of values that are rooted in bringing community voices to the table to shape policies.”
Yang, an Asian-American son of immigrants, agreed with the sentiment:
“One of the reasons why Carlos and I see eye-to-eye is that we want to humanize government,” explained the tech entrepreneur and one-time presidential hopeful. “We want our government working better for us and the people.”
During the event, Menchaca spoke positively of Yang’s plan to create a public bank, which would offer loans at lower interest rates and fees than private institutions. Menchaca explained that such a measure would greatly benefit immigrant communities throughout the city, including those in his southern Brooklyn district.
Also at Wednesday’s event, Yang spoke about his plan to pressure wire transfer and check-cashing services like Western Union to lower their remittance fees. The candidate explained that such charges disproportionately affect immigrants communities who send money to relatives outside of the U.S.
Menchaca rose to prominence in city politics for his progressive actions, including his successful effort to stop a rezoning in Sunset Park. Yang, on the other hand, is known for his pro-business and pro-real estate stances, making the endorsement an unlikely alliance.
Other progressive candidates have also recently endorsed Yang, including Congressman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx and Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens. The endorsements could possibly sway more left-leaning New Yorkers, who have remained skeptical of Yang’s moderate beliefs.
Last week, Yang was also given flak from his opponent, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who criticized the frontrunner for holding an event about placard abuse instead of focusing on racial justice in the wake of Duante Wright’s death in Minnesota.
“I think about what’s happening to families in New York all the time, particularly to victims of violent crime,” Yang said in response to Adams. “I think New Yorkers sense that we have the capacity to do multiple things at once.”
Standing with Yang in Red Hook, Menchaca highlighted the kindness and personable attitude that led to the endorsement. He said Yang contacted him after he dropped out of the race, a personal touch that strengthened their relationship.
“We connected on that human level,” Menchaca explained. “That’s the kind of mayor I want to have.”

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