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Pakistani businessman eyes Meeks’ congressional seat

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Elmont businessman Ali Mirza, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) for his seat, says he is the best person to serve the diverse communities in the district.

The 5th Congressional District includes Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Hollis, South Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Elmont, Valley Stream, Inwood and Floral Park.

Mirza, 56, who announced his candidacy Jan. 9, called Meeks an “absentee congressman” who stays in a “very limited geographical area, which is near his residence,” ignoring 90 percent of his district.

He also said he has been more vocal about and supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and issues affecting the black community than Meeks, noting that he respects the work of police officers but some do abuse their power.

“I hope African-American communities and black communities will not just blindly say that, ‘OK, we have an African-American, black person in the Congress for 18 years so let’s keep on voting for him,’ but they will look at the better option that is available in Ali Mirza to represent them,” he said.

Meeks said Mirza is running a smear campaign against him and people are not familiar with his challenger.

“No one knows the guy, so some of his questions don’t deserve a response, quite frankly,” Meeks said.

The businessman also criticized Meeks for supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which determines the rules for global trade. He is against the agreement.

He claimed that supporters of state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park), who recently announced he would not pursue Meeks’ seat, are flocking to his side now.

“I’m going to try to seek his (Sanders’) support also, but I haven’t talked to him yet. But his supporters, some of them have already started coming to me,” he said.

Sanders declined to comment.

Mirza came to the United States from Pakistan as a student in 1984 to study at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He moved to Elmont in 1991 and has been living there since.

He started a property and casualty insurance agency in Flushing but when his wife, Jaweria, 36, took over and became the owner, she moved it to Long Island.

They have two children, Sobaika, 29, and Serene, 3.

He then started a new business, Mirza Strategies and Public Relations Inc.

From 1991 to 1995, he served as the first president of the Parent Teachers Association of the Al-Iman School, an Islamic school in Jamaica, where his daughter attended.

Mirza founded the Pakistani American Democratic Club of New York and Americans of Pakistani Heritage.

From 2002 to 2007, he organized Pakistani Night as part of International Nights at Shea Stadium in collaboration with the New York Mets.

In 2000 and 2010, he led efforts to make sure that the census properly counted immigrant populations. He is in favor of comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented residents, but he also said there has to be a screening process to ensure safety and security.

He also coordinated interfaith services for the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Mirza said he is concerned about the traffic that will be brought on by video lottery terminals (VLTs) at the Belmont Racetrack and said there should be more economic activity in Queens, given hotspots such as the Queens Museum and Citi Field.

“How come there is no economic development taking advantage of all these places?” he said.

He also suggested the creation of training programs for Department of Homeland Security personnel at Kennedy Airport.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Reader Feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
First off, I have a MAJOR problem with the Queens Times Ledger title of this article. I mean why did they feel the need to say "Pakistani businessman" as opposed to businessman (I certainly know why) when describing Ali Mirza. I mean if an Italian was running would they say Italian businessman or if a Jewish man was running would they say "Jewish Businessman". It seems the Times Ledger is already trying to stack the deck and side with the entrenched Democratic backed machine Meeks.

But regardless, Mirza makes many good points about very long term do nothing and corrupt Meeks:

He called Meeks an “absentee congressman” who stays in a “very limited geographical area, which is near his residence,” ignoring 90 percent of his district. GOOD POINT.

He also said he has been more vocal about and supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and issues affecting the black community than Meeks, noting that he respects the work of police officers but some do abuse their power. Pretty much all of the local black elected officials in Jamaica seem to ignore many of the issues, especially quality of life issues in the black community of Jamaica and that includes Meeks, who feels just because he is black he can coast and the folks will just elect him because he is black (which many will do unfortunately because they have been brainwashed by the good ole boys club of Jamaica).

The businessman also criticized Meeks for supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which determines the rules for global trade. He is against the agreement. THIS IS A FACT and everyone know that the Trans-Pacific trade agreement has caused many job losses in this country.

Of course Meeks is claiming that Mirza is running a smear campaign. WHY, because he is stating facts about Meeks. What smear campaign. Funny, coming from a man, who has been deemed one of the most corrupt Congressional members for several years. Many already know that these entrenched leaders like Meeks, Comrie, Cook and others have year after year consistently done very little to help improve the community of Jamaica and to help improve quality of life for the black community.

Bottom line, the demographics are changing in the Jamaica area, it is not just black people anymore and the powers that be are seeing the writing on the wall and are attempting to keep the good ole boys in office as long as they can.

Mirza makes a very good point:

“I hope African-American communities and black communities will not just blindly say that, ‘OK, we have an African-American, black person in the Congress for 18 years so let’s keep on voting for him,’ but they will look at the better option that is available in Ali Mirza to represent them,” he said.

We need people in office who are once and for all going to work for the community and constituents and not feel that they can just coast and get votes because they happen to be black.

I don't know much about Mirza, but I know much about Meeks and it is time for entrenched leaders like Meeks to get kicked out of office for poor job performance and not properly serving ALL residents of Jamaica. Mirza might be just as bad as Meeks, but I would rather vote for someone new than vote for the same old, same old, that has done nothing. Jamaica is going through some changes and hopefully for the better and to help with that, we cannot continue with the same old do nothing status quo leaders.

AND shame on you Times Ledger for attempting to sway the public with you questionable title of this article. I know what you are trying to do. No doubt the Times Ledger is in bed with the entrenched Democratic Machine.

https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
April 8, 2016, 7:49 am
explanation for Joe from queens says:
The reason his heritage was mentioned is to point out that the citizens voted for Meeks based on his race.
April 8, 2016, 10:17 am
younis khan from jamaica says:
Mr. Mirza is a fraud with sub par qualifications to run for office. Some one must verify his specific credentials, academic and otherwise. The fact is that many in the Pakistani community already know about his shady background and short tempered personality and therefore are reluctant to support him.
April 9, 2016, 5:08 pm
Javeed from Brooklyn says:
Mr Meeks was given a chance to prove his dedication to the community and unfortunately he did not do so. It is required that a new person replace him who does his job diligently upholding ethical values. The issues of Immigration, job creation, minimum wages, police brutality in different parts of the country, campaign finance reform, banking regulations, Hate and Xenophobia of Minorities are very important and Congress must represent genuine leaders who believe in them and will fight for them.
The TimesLedger and community groups must conducively build platforms where the issues will be discussed by the candidates and allegations of misappropriation and ethical misconduct will also be questioned. This will help understand the better candidate and voting done accordingly.
April 11, 2016, 6:46 pm
Ayesha M from Elmont says:
Mr. Meeks may be corrupt but Mr. Mirza has no leadership experience or the required qualifications for the coveted Congressional position. I will vote for Mr. Mirza if he can elaborate on what he has done for the community other than attend functions for free meals make Donald trump like promises.
April 21, 2016, 1:55 pm
J. ruthledge from Woodhaven says:
First of all anyone who is one sided for BLM is ignorant of the facts and has no purpose running for any seat. Meeks uses our tax dollars to lease his expensive automobiles he rides around in, that's illegal in case you didn't know (source: Headline news). If he does that I wonder what else he does that is illegal, Ill bet a lot.
Sept. 4, 2016, 1:28 pm

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