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Picking Democratic candidates is Miller’s calling

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For the last 40 years, Honey Miller has been a fixture on the borough’s political scene. Whether it was as a district leader, leader of a political club or as a member of the borough president’s staff, this grand dame of northeast Queens politics has been a loyal and proud Democrat fighting for and representing her party.

A Douglaston resident, Miller has politics in her blood. Growing up in Washington Heights with a father who was the chief investigator for the Manhattan district attorney and a brother who was a federal marshal, it made sense that she would get involved in the city’s political machine.

Miller moved to Douglaston — where she raised her family — in 1953 just after marrying her husband Sam, who died two years ago, and became immediately active in the community. Her first project was setting up the borough’s B’nai B’rith, the Aviva Chapter, which is still in existence. B’nai B’rith is the oldest and largest Jewish service organization in the United States.

“In 1960, Democratic leader Louis Wallach was running for the [state] Assembly,” she said. “A neighbor asked me to help out on the campaign and I never got out of it.”

Wallach, hailing from New Hyde Park, was a state assemblyman from 1955 to 1964.

Miller became a Democratic Party official in 1972 when she ran for the position of Democratic district leader for the 24th Assembly District, Part B and has been entrenched in the position ever since. She said elections for district leader happen every other year and so far she has not had an opponent.

“I was going to give it up last year when my husband died, but was talked out of it,” she said. “Now I am not sure that I want to stop. Every time I say I am leaving, they [the Queens Democratic Party] say no you are not.”

“I enjoy it. It has been part of my life and some of my dearest friends I have met in politics. I have lost nothing but gained so much through it,” she said.

Miller said the non-paying job of district leader helps to select candidates for political office and works with the Queens County Democratic Organization to determine the needs of the community and strengthen the party.

“She is the bedrock of the Democratic Party,” said Bernice Siegal, a candidate for Councilman Sheldon Leffler’s (D-Hollis) seat. Siegal is also the vice president of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club, which Miller started, and has received Miller’s endorsement.

“She adheres to the principles of the party — helping the working family,” Siegal said. “She has always been there for the Democratic Party.”

Leffler, who has known Miller since he was first elected to office in 1978, said she, as head of one of the two main Democratic clubs in the area, has played a “real role in the Democratic Party over the years.”

In addition to being a district leader, Miller spent 17 years working with Borough Presidents Donald Manes and Claire Shulman. She started out as coordinator for Community Board 11 and by the time she retired in 1990, she was deputy director of community boards for the borough.

A distinguished woman with blond hair who demands respect, Miller has been praised and honored by a wide range of political and non-political organizations statewide. She was the chair of the women’s division of the New York State Democratic Committee in 1979 and 1980, the 1995 woman of the year for the Little Neck and Douglaston Memorial Day Parade and she has received proclamations from the borough president and City Council.

In her more than 40 years in Queens politics, Miller said she has not felt any discrimination as a woman in a normally male-dominated field. She said the Queens Democrats are one “big happy family” that works together.

“I expect people in my club to be loyal to me and I owe my loyalty to the county chair — hopefully, we will agree,” she said, answering a question on who she would endorse for borough president. “I am not a puppet. I am loyal, I’ve always been loyal and it has paid off.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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