BY JON CRONIN
Juniper Park Civic President Bob Holden will challenge Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) for her seat this September in the Democratic primary.
Holden, a long-time civic leader and Middle Village resident, described himself as a moderate Democrat. He noted that in the current political climate, people often only see the far left or right, and added that he doesn’t “see eye to eye with a lot of conservatives too.”
Holden has been on Community Board 5 for almost 30 years and sits on the board’s public safety committee. He has been the Juniper Park Civic’s president for just as long. Holden noted that over the years, he’s worked well with most of the local politicians. He particularly enjoyed working with former Councilman Walter McCaffrey.
“He was one of the best councilmen ever,” Holden said.
Asked if he would attempt to seek the endorsement of the Queens Democratic Party, he scoffed at the idea. He said that he believes the party is one of the most corrupt in the country.
“I’m not even gonna waste my time,” Holden said. “Queens is one of the most corrupt counties in the state. Our Democratic chairman [U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley] lives in Virginia. I don’t want their endorsement. I don’t seek endorsements. The Crowleys are intertwined in the court system. They’re all at the trough.”
Holden said that he decided to take on Elizabeth Crowley, who is Joe Crowley’s cousin, because he has been disappointed with her leadership.
“To me, she doesn’t get it,” he said. “She’s not representative [of the community] at all. I know it will get vicious, but I will put up a fight. I’ve proven that I can put up a fight. I couldn’t let her serve another four years without giving her a run for her money.”
Holden said that he’s been active in the community for most of his adult life.
“If you look at the Juniper Berry, you can’t fake that,” he said, referencing his civic group’s publication. “I love the community.
I’ve proven that.”
The Berry is an approximately 100-page magazine-style quarterly that features neighborhood articles from community members and op-eds that often criticize local politicians.
“I send out 1,600 in membership,” he said of its subscriptions. “I put 5,000 in the stores. When I take them out of my car, I get mobbed.”
Holden said that he is also on top of the issues that are most critical to the district.
“I know what the neighborhoods are facing,” he said. “The 104th [Precinct] needs more staffing. There is no XO [executive officer] in the 104th.”
He said that he was also inspired to run for office by the recent ousting of incumbent Assemblywoman Marge Markey in September.
“I was certainly thrilled that Brian [Barnwell] took out the machine,” he said.
Holden said that he led the effort in protesting a deal between Keyspan and the Mattone development group in 2004, when Keyspan’s gas tanks were being removed from Elmhurst. Keyspan eventually sold the area to the city for $1.
“It is a park because of me leading the effort,” he said.
Holden said that he also helped get the zip code changed in his area of Middle Village in early 2003. He said that he went to the postmaster and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley to complain that his area was listed as being in Community Board 4 and part of the 110th Precinct, when in fact it was part of CB 5 and the 104th Precinct.
Holden said that he doesn’t believe in labels.
“If you don’t want a homeless shelter is that conservative?” he said. “I don’t want someone who just did 25 years for manslaughter in our neighborhood.”
He said that he believes the city should fix Rikers Island, rather than Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to add jails in all five boroughs. Other issues on which he plans to focus include fighting truck traffic, preventing concealed weapons from being on the streets, keeping the area downzoned and fostering better enforcement of the city’s Department of Buildings.
“If I go in the City Council, I’ll do the best job I can possibly do,” said Holden. “It’ll be interesting to see who endorses me. We’re gonna tell the truth. I’m not beholden to advertising.”
After the spring semester, Holden said that he would retire from his 40-year tenured position as a graphic design professor at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.
“This is my last semester,” he said. “I’ve had the same job for 40 years, married to the same woman for 44 years and my mother lives with me around the corner from where she was born. I don’t like change.”
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org , or @JonathanSCronin.