By Jon Cronin, Editor
City Council District 30 residents now have their answer—Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, is their councilman-elect.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) issued a statement early this morning through Red Horse Strategies conceding the election to Holden.
“The last nine years have been some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of my entire life,” she said, adding that, “The results of this election will not change my commitment to public service. I intend to spend the remaining weeks of my term in office working tirelessly on behalf of my constituents. Whatever the future holds, I will bring the same passion and dedication to fighting for our community that I brought to my work as council member.”
As of Wednesday night, the city’s Board of Elections reported that Holden was up by 137 votes.
After hearing the news, Holden told the Queens Tribune, “I just feel that we did the impossible. The deck was stacked against us. It was essentially a grassroots effort that started in my garage.”
He said that, in the final two weeks, his volunteers—to whom he attributes his victory—“were energized. Everything started going our way.”
“I have never met more dedicated volunteers in my life and I’ve been in civics for 30 years. I don’t know if I could do it with anyone else,” Holden said. “They had more confidence in me than I had in myself. They would push me when I was exhausted and it’s raining and I didn’t want to go door to door. It’s not easy going door to door when you’re my age.”
He noted that three volunteers who did not live in the district walked with him everywhere.
“Millie and Sally Wong and Phil Wong—they don’t even live in the district. I was amazed. I’m indebted to them forever,” he said.
Holden also thanked Juniper Park Civic member Christina Wilkinson for posting campaign information on Facebook.
“[Assemblyman] Brian Barnwell told me I’ll be on a rollercoaster ride,” Holden said. “Up one day and down the next. I know now why people don’t go into politics. I was amazed at the lies. Some believed them.”
He recalled going to some homes and being called “not a real Democrat” and, at others, “not a real Republican.”
Ultimately, Holden felt that there was “such dissatisfaction with the current regime, both in the district and the city” that he was able to pull off a victory. He said that he never told his campaign volunteers that victory was a sure thing.
“I said that it was within reach,” he said. “I just said we had a shot. I thought we could go toe to toe.”
Holden said that when he gets to the council, he will push the three-point homeless plan that he created with urban planner and District 19 council contender Paul Graziano on the campaign trail. His second task will be to take on the “traffic nightmare on Woodhaven Boulevard.” Holden said that he has some ideas and plans on meeting with the city Department of Transportation to discuss them.
The councilman-elect is a registered Democrat, but ran on the Conservative and Republican lines during the campaign. Upon being asked with whom he will caucus, Holden said that he has spoken to the Republicans and plans on having a conversation with the Democrats.
He acknowledged that the past few days have been rough for him.
“It’s like being in the dentist’s chair for the past couple of days,” he said. “I’m not a political party person. The infighting on both sides is terrible. I want to represent my people in the area. I don’t want an R or a D next to my name. It’s really not a priority for me.”
He said that when talking to different party affiliates, he told them, “I don’t have to fit into your little labels.”
Holden noted that as a college professor, he comes from a progressive world and has worked with many undocumented students “who have a much tougher go than we do.” On the other hand, he said that he is a civic leader and relates to the homeowners who are trying to protect their neighborhoods.
Of her nine years as councilwoman, Crowley said, “It has been a true honor. I’m proud of the work we have done—expanding and strengthening our schools, securing vital emergency services, creating the borough’s largest landmarked neighborhood and giving voice to the underserved and most vulnerable in our community.”