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Monserrate’s flip a bitter pill for constituents

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Elected officials and community leaders in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights reacted with a mixture of skepticism and disappointment to news that state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst), their representative in Albany, had sided with Republicans in the ouster of Democrats from the state Senate leadership.

“I was one of the people who supported Hiram when he ran for Senate, and I’m disappointed,” said state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D−Jackson Heights). “I thought he would a loyal Democrat to the party. That said, I haven’t spoken to him personally.”

Monserrate’s Senate predecessor, John Sabini, who now chairs the state Racing and Wagering Board, said Monserrate’s district expected him to be a part of the Democratic majority.

“I don’t think that this is what the public willed when they had an election,” he said.

Some leaders were angrier over Monserrate’s move.

“I think Hiram and his cohorts are the biggest traitors on the planet,” said Democratic District Leader George Dixon. “They were put in office to serve the Democratic agenda, not side with Republicans. I’m not surprised by their actions. I’ve always seen this coming. You can talk about being a team player, but actions speak louder than words.”

Most leaders expected Monserrate would find a way to reconcile his shift in allegiance to his constituents and his fellow Queens legislators.

“I would tend to think that it could go either way,” DenDekker said. “You might have a lot of loyal Democrats who would be astonished by this move and not understand why, and then again you might have a lot of local community leaders who cheer him for taking on reform.

“I obviously will always work with my senator as an Assembly member because we both share the same constituency.”

Sabini pointed to the bad blood between Monserrate and Senate Republicans like Frank Padavan of Bellerose, who earlier had called for Monserrate to resign after he was charged with allegedly slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass during a fight.

“These things tend to work themselves out,” Sabini said. “He’s a fellow with some talent and he’ll figure it out.”

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D−East Elmhurst), Monserrate’s former chief of staff, did not respond to a request for comment by press time Tuesday nor did Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D−Jackson Heights).

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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