BY JON CRONIN
City Council District 30 residents now have their answer—Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, is their new representative. However, the councilman-elect has still not decided on his party affiliation.
Nearly a week after the ballots were counted, Holden said that he has still not had time to decide with which party he will caucus. Currently, he is interviewing people for his staff and looking for an office.
He noted that although he was quoted in The New York Times as saying he will “probably caucus with Republicans,” he is still “learning the lay of the land.”
“I know the Republicans probably got me where I am, [but] I want to do what’s best for my constituents,” he said. “I have different experts telling me different things.”
The councilman-elect is a registered Democrat, but ran on the Conservative and Republican lines during the campaign. He 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.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) issued a statement last Thursday 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, “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 the night of Wednesday, Nov. 15, 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.”
During the election, Holden 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.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.