“There’s no democracy, no opportunity for new leadership in Southeast Queens,” says Scherie Murray, the Republican candidate for the 29th Assembly District.
A debate organized by the residents of Addisleigh Park Civic Association, Brinkerhoff Action Association and others for the two candidates vying for the vacant seat in the 29th Assembly District took place on October 20, 2015. William Scarborough (D) who held the position resigned on May 7th, 2015 amidst corruption charges.
The candidates Scherie Murray, a Republican, also running on the Reform ticket and Alicia Hyndman, a Democrat and former president of Community Education Council 29, arrived late for the debate because of another meeting at IS 238 Susan B. Anthony on Hillside Avenue with the Chancellor of New York City Public Schools.
Voters from the 29th District turned out in large numbers to listen to the candidates’ positions on issues affecting them. Ms. Hyndman, who has a strong personality, is currently the frontrunner with backing from Mayor de Blasio, Leroy Comrie and other Democrats. Scherie Murray, a soft spoken woman also from Southeast Queens—but a Republican—is running in a district where the majority of voters are Democrats.
Murray informed voters that there needs to be a change of thoughts and questioned the way residents in the district vote. “People vote according to party and we must change this mindset,” said Murray, “vote for candidates who can alleviate the challenges low income communities face in Queens and make it better. Errol Louis from the Daily News (June 19th 2014) challenged voters to kindly quit sending flawed candidates to positions of power.
Hyndman and Murray offered solutions to deal with a variety of issues: long lines at food pantries in the 29th District, which they see as they walk around during the campaign, high rates of HIV/AIDS, juvenile justice system reform and close to home programs, improving education, publicly funded campaigns and term limits for politicians. Although theoretically it all sounds good, most voters have heard the same rhetoric by elected officials yet little had been done for them or their communities.
When asked if she supports term limits for politicians in Southeast Queens where representatives spend as long as 22 years on the job, Hyndman dodged the question by saying it’s not only in Southeast Queens where this is happening and went on to say it is the responsibility of the voters to cast ballots for change if they are unhappy with the representation they receive.
A New York State Assembly term is two years, after which the assembly member seeks re-election. However, in Southeast Queens representatives remain on the job for more than12 years, which is above average because, as Hyndman explains, it’s a secured job because as an incumbent the constituents know the representative and backing comes from their party. Murray supports term limits but stressed voters must also be happy with the work of their representatives and if the politicians are not doing the job they were elected to do they must be removed through elections.
Yet disgruntled residents continue to elect politicians who are not serving their communities, are corrupt or out of touch.
In Queens, Democrats outnumber Republicans in by a ratio of about 4-to-1, with more than 640,800 registered Democrats and 153,800 registered Republicans according to the TimesLedger. Some elected officials who were there when Murray was a young girl are still representing the community. The Republican candidate wanted to know why voters are hesitant to elect someone from another party who might do a better job at representing the constituents.
There was some back and forth questioning between the two candidates that was stopped by the moderator. Both candidates promised, if elected, to bring about changes for constituents for a better quality of life in their own way. Both Hyndman and Murray stressed there are no quick fixes because things move slowly in the Assembly. If elected, Murray would be the 43rd elected Republican in the assembly and can work favorably with a Republican controlled senate where most bills coming out of the Assembly get killed at this level but she promised she would work hard to reintroduce the bill until she gets a response.
Election is set for November 3rd, 2015.