BY LUIS GRONDA
A Woodhaven resident running for a State Assembly seat was grilled about his candidacy at a civic group meeting last week.
Robert Pumarejo announced his intentions to run as a Democrat for the 38th Assembly District against Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), which encompasses Woodhaven and parts of Ozone Park, Glendale and Ridgewood.
Pumarejo is an account manager at NYC Business Solution, a City program that helps people gain skills that are needed to obtain a job in today’s economy.
He said he wants to run, in part, because recently a girl was stabbed a short distance away from his home on 80th Street and he wants to increase police presence in the district.
“That terrified me. Why? I have kids. Why? Because my neighbors have kids,” he said. “I want more police presence in Woodhaven. We deserve to walk down the street and not be afraid, to wonder ‘am I going to be stabbed? Am I going to be mugged?’”
He also said he want to reopen the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the senior center that was housed in its headquarters, as quickly as possible. Pumarejo said his mother was a member of that senior center and many like her were displaced as a result of its closure. Removing graffiti in the area is another central focus of his campaign, Pumarejo said.
Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association showered the candidate with questions about his intentions to run, including his involvement in the community.
“What have you done for Woodhaven in the past and why haven’t you been at this meeting before?” one WRBA member asked.
“What makes your first step running for Assembly rather than being involved in the community first?” another member asked.
Pumarejo said that he originally intended to run for the seat back in 2008, but he was laid off from his job back then, due to the economic downturn the country experienced during that time.
Therefore, he was forced to focus more attention on finding employment to support his family rather than running for elected office.
He later admitted that he has not done anything to specifically help Woodhaven, noting that he organized job fairs in other parts of the City, but that would change if elected.
A WRBA member, Arlene Annunziata, said he should get involved more in the community, like attending more WRBA meetings in the future, and then worry about running for an elected office at a later time. Pumarejo said he looks forward to meeting and getting to know everyone involved with the civic group.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.