As the founder of the National Latino Officers Association, a group that defends the rights of law enforcement officers and citizens, state Assembly candidate Anthony Miranda has always seen himself as a community advocate.
“I’m the guy who fights for them when other people say it’s an impossible fight,” Miranda said.
Miranda, 49, a retired NYPD officer who has lived in Queens with his wife and three sons for a year, is running in the Democratic primary for the East Elmhurst and Corona Assembly district against incumbent Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), who has held the position since 1992.
While Miranda, a native of Brooklyn, said he has not lived in Queens long, he has been advocating in the district for longer as part of the National Latino Officers Association.
He said he is running for Assembly because he does not believe Aubry has been visible enough in the community nor done enough for constituents. Miranda said most of the legislation Aubry is the primary sponsor of is concerned with the prison populations, not residents.
“That’s not effective in terms of representing the community at all,” Miranda said.
Aubry said in response that most of his bills are targeted at the prisoner populations because he is the chairman of the Assembly’s Corrections Committee and a former teacher at a state penitentiary. He said he often is the co-sponsor of bills on other issues that were introduced by another member of the Assembly whose expertise is in different areas.
“His unfamiliarity with the process might lead him to conclude that, but he’s wrong,” Aubry said.
He also disagreed with Miranda’s assertion he was not visible in the community.
“I’m 6-foot-7. I’ve been here 62 years. It would be hard to miss me,” Aubry said.
Miranda said he is running on a platform of equal access to government officials, more diversity in government, government transparency, health-care access, preserving jobs, protecting homeowners and protecting the working class.
He said most of the budget cuts made in the community have hit working families the hardest, like increases on homeowners, overcrowded schools and the cutback of library hours.
“You can’t make the poor and working families pay for these decisions,” he said.
He said he would try to fix problems by coming up with creative approaches to them. He said, for example, agreements between the government and new businesses in the community in which businesses agree to hire locally in exchange for moving to Queens need to be outlined so more residents are hired at all levels. He also called for reparations for homeowners who purchased fraudulent mortgages, not prosecution of lenders.
“The homeowner isn’t concerned the person who sold them their home is locked up,” Miranda said.
Most of Miranda’s campaign has been focused on door-to-door visits. He said most of the people he meets said they have never had an elected official come to their door.
“[We’re] meeting people in [their] homes, discussing real quality-of-life problems that an assemblyman can have a direct impact on,” he said.
To raise money, Miranda has been collecting from community residents and longtime friends and family. He said at the moment he believes the support of the people has been more important than financial support, although he has been fund-raising at local restaurants and other establishments.
“The side effect of that is you’re helping to promote local business as well,” he said.
Yet Miranda also said he wants to provide an avenue for people to be effective in their community.
“We have to be able to stand up and say, ‘This is not right for my community, my district,’” Miranda said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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