Moya fends off Monserrate

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Strike two for Hiram Monserrate.

Community activist Francisco Moya bested the controversial former state senator in the Democratic primary for the 39th Assembly District seat, earning 67 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results.

“Change has finally arrived, and we did it in a resounding way,” Moya said.

This is Moya’s second major campaign, having once run unsuccessfully against Julissa Ferreras (D–Corona) for City Council.

Mike Nieves, campaign manager for Monserrate, said the candidate has no plans at the moment and will be taking some time to sit back and consider the results of the contest.

“We ran a race. We hoped that the results were different,” Nieves said.

Nevertheless, he had good things to say about the election.

“The people are in good spirits. The candidates are in good spirits. And that’s what happens in this game: some people win, some people lose,” Nieves said.

This was the second race Monserrate had lost this year after being defeated in a landside by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) in March when the two of them ran for the seat Monserrate had been forced to give up. He was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, which got him thrown out of the State Senate in February.

The seat Monserrate and Moya were vying for was Peralta’s old one.

Poll workers in the district said the turnout was higher than normal.

Maria Faro, coordinator for polls at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights, said there was a continuous flow of voters coming to the site and at noon Tuesday more than 200 people had been there to vote.

“At 6 o’clock there were people and they have not stopped,” she said.

Faro also said the turnout was mixed, with voters of multiple ethnicities and ages at the polls.

Garjit Badhan, a poll worker at St. Leo’s Church in Corona, said the voter turnout had been far larger than in last year’s primary election. Last year the polling place had 10 to 15 people all day, but this year they had 50 people by the morning.

Moya ran on a number of issues, including fighting gangs, creating jobs, bringing industry back to Queens, combating school overcrowding and childhood obesity and fighting to return control of the rent laws to the city.

Monserrate also put job creation at the center of his campaign choosing, “Let’s Get Queens Back to Work” as his slogan. He also said he hoped to bring more sanitation services to the district.

Monserrate’s campaign for the 39th Assembly District was plagued by controversy. Often in the campaign, Moya and his workers accused Monserrate of dirty politics. In June, Moya’s campaign manager, Nathan Smith, said Monserrate petitioners harassed Moya and his father while they were taking petitions at St. Leo’s, and Moya and other politicians clashed with Monserrate when he showed up uninvited at a street renaming in Corona July 31.

Much of the campaign message from Moya was centered around portraying his candidacy as a positive contrast to Monserrate’s controversies.

“We’re going to be the shining example of everything Hiram Monserrate is not,” Smith said in July.

Monserrate, in turn, accused Moya of being backed by special interests, and cited Moya’s occupation as a government affairs officer for Cablevision. He also criticized the campaign contributions Moya had received from Albany officials.

“I believe I have a lot more to offer this community,” Monserrate said during the campaign, “more than my opponent does.”

Moya claimed clashes between his people and Monserrate’s had occurred throughout Primary Day, but could not name any specifics.

Campaigners working for both Monserrate and Moya outside St. Leo’s Church on 104-19 49th Ave. in Corona and Renaissance Charter School in 35-19 81st Street in Jackson Heights said around midday that they had not seen any problems in their area and that the other side had been respectful.

Faro said when Monserrate voted at Renaissance in the morning, he was respectful.

“He came, no problem,” Faro said. “He was very gracious.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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