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Candidates for 37th Assembly Race Squared Off in Forum Tuesday

Candidates vying to represent the 37th Assembly District at a forum held at Sunnyside Community Services on Tuesday, May 24 (Photo: Michael Dorgan/Queens Post)

May 25, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

There are four candidates running in the Democratic primary for the 37th Assembly seat and last night they squared off in a forum that was organized by the Queens Post and Sunnyside Community Services.

The event was held at Sunnyside Community Services and approximately 100 people attended. The crowd was limited to 100 given COVID-19 restrictions. The forum, however, was streamed live.

The four candidates—Juan Ardila, Johanna Carmona, Jim Magee and Brent O’Leary—were asked a series of questions covering topics ranging from affordable housing, education to bail reform. There were also questions from the public and a lightning round of yes/no questions.

The event was moderated by Christian Murray, co-publisher of the Queens Post, and Judy Zangwill, executive director of SCS.

The candidates are running for a seat currently represented by Cathy Nolan, who is stepping down at the end of the year after being in office since 1985.

The geography of the district has undergone some change with this year’s redistricting—although much of it remains unchanged.

The district covers Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Maspeth and the Hunters Point section of Long Island City.

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

Candidate Forum for 37th District Assembly Race (Photos by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

L-R: Judy Zangwill, Executive Director SCS, Candidates: Johanna Carmona, Juan Ardila, Brent O’Leary, Jim Magee, and Christian Murray, Co-Publisher Queens Post (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Forum and topics addressed:

Candidate introductions: 3:25

Affordable Housing: 10:15

The Department of Education and its responsiveness to parents: 14:30

Immigrant services, such as social programs for undocumented workers: 18:30

The Interborough Express and public transportation: 23:40

Bail reform and crime: 28:00

Small Businesses and a living wage: 33:25

Lightning round, where candidates provide yes or no answers: 46:00

  1. –Given the high price of gas, do you support removing the state gas tax right now?
  2. –Should the NYPD budget be reduced?
  3. –Have you taken donations from real estate developers or real estate lobby groups?
  4. –Would you vote in support of a bill that called for term limits for state officials—such as Assembly Members and state senators?

Public Questions and comments submitted online and in-person

— Race and diversity: 48:50

— Eliminating Medicare premiums: 54:50

— Con Ed rate hikes and the New York State Build Public Renewables Act: 58:45

Moderator question

— Improving the bike infrastructure in western Queens 1:02.50

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
Juan >>>>> Brent

I have several problems with Brent O’Leary’s candidacy.

1. It’s presumptuous of him to think volunteer experience in the community qualifies him to serve as an elected official.

2. It kind of casts doubt on the motivations behind his volunteering. Does he genuinely care or is he just trying to get elected?

3. His positions are all over the place. He supports bike lanes and rides with Transportation Alternatives before railing against them in Trumpist rallies. He is pro-defund but also anti bail reform. Do Black Lives Matter to this candidate? Does nuance exist in his mind? He is pro-affordable housing and then shows up at a Trumpist rally against affordable housing on Barnett. He also doesn’t seem to read the job description of the multiple offices he runs for. Many of his comments and policy positions are wildly out of step with what he would be able to do. His positions when running for council seemed more in line with someone running for state office, and yet now his main issues are the kinds Julie Won can deal with, not an assembly member. He is just all over the map and is unqualified for elected office.

My vote will be for Juan. Even though he is also unqualified, he has good positions and you get the feeling he will have a very solid and progressive team behind him. The other candidates seem in it for themselves. Juan is a movement candidate and stands the best chance to bring much needed reforms to Albany, just like a young Cathy Nolan did. And whether you agree with their positions, AOC, Ramos, Gonzalez-Rojas, etc are BRILLIANT retail politicians and their amazing teams are responsive and have led to their huge popularity among their constituents. We can have that here, and the only choice is Juan.

Really only two choices

Carmona and Magee are the only qualified candidates. when elected I hope they work to reduce crime this is one of the issues they can make a change in in that office seat.

Uh oh

Juan took money from what looks to be a real estate investor. Hope the sunny side post asks about this.


I am voting for Juan. I forgive what he said in the past about queers. I heard worse and some people also deserve a second chance. He is most qualified and also better looking than the others.


Lol so you’re voting for him cause you have a crush? And what you consider good looks? Hahahahahahaha

Clearly what comes out a persons mouth doesn’t matter to you. Or you like to hear the “fancy endorsed” names since he never actually answers any questions.

Yes though- everyone does deserve a second chance. And tweets he made as a prepubescent boy shouldn’t matter. We have all said things we regret. He’s just in the wrong field.


Following the money is saying in politics can be traced back to ancient roman times when “senators” would receive donations blah blah blah. However, that saying is more relevant now then ever!!! Juan is taking donations from real estate firms just like the vicious liar JVB did. Juan is not from the neighborhood this guy will sell us out to developers who will promise “affordable housing.” What they fail to reveal is that these affordable housing are a lottery and they are so few of them that it won’t suffice for the actual people who will be misplaced. Juan is a LIAR and I am not surprised from his past actions. Follow Juan money I will be definitely placing a call with the BOE to make sure they audit all his paper work.

Womp womp

Unfortunately if Brent or Juan win it’s because they’re ahead of the game of being a politician and lying to the public.

Brent claimed not to take money from real estate. His filing says otherwise. He also claimed to be “pro safety and police” but his conversation with Jim Owles said otherwise.

Juan denied to include expenses made to BLEND- is it because you don’t want LIC knowing you were the party that caused some chaos at the public safety forum?

Sorry Jim and Jo. You are too genuine.

check the filings

yup according to filings, Brent took money from TF cornerstone. Hope Sunnyside post looks into it.


Fast forwarded through most of it. My mind is already made up. I am team AOC all the way. A vote for Juan is a vote for our immigrant and working class immigrant community.


Just wish the moderators and hosts were diverse and included translators for the public. As Julie Won said we have many immigrants in our community who do not speak English.


Carmona and Magee are the only viable candidates. O’Leary supported Tiffany Caban for Queens DA and now is saying he is the ‘can do democrat’. Nope sorry too much of a flip-flop for me. Ardila might as well be the gentrification candidate. He will turn sunnyside from a small town in a big city to a gentrified neighborhood with 80 story towers consisting of 10 units affordable and 70 market rate apartments. Throw in the $10 coffee shops and the hipsters will feel right at home.


Carmona stayed in the middle for majority of the topics, but I wonder she why didn’t get support from the major progressive stars of NYC.
O’Leary sounded logical in his statements, but has flip flopped so many times siding with the far left in the past that you can’t really trust him
Ardila is a puppet. Scripted and didn’t really answer any questions especially when asked directly about his racist, homophobic and sexist statements and just name dropped all the progressive trolls who paved the way for him. But I guess that’s what the progressives want: A puppet that repeats the same dribble their handlers feed them.
And big boy is very practical and seems to understand the issues and was answering freely unlike Ardila. Even though he debunked that awful redundant question on race and shot down the notion of affirmative action, I don’t see him getting elected. He is too white aka the Crowley factor. This young new progressive generation of hypocrites will discriminate against him for his race and ride the trend of Joe Biden hiring based on a checklist rather than the best person for the job.


The audio definitely could’ve used some upgrading it was hard to hear especially if you were listening to it virtually. If a particular person didn’t line their pockets with the influx of cash they received and invested it into the infrastructure of SSCS and its audio equipment then maybe it would’ve been much more clearer. Also their is clearly bias with SSCS and SSP when both entities should be neutral and yet you can clearly see that they are working hand in hand to favor one particular candidate because they were endorsed by the Queen AOC. Bend the knee to AOC, whatever AOC says we must adhere too, its so sad. Three out of the four candidates are local individuals from the neighborhood, this bald dude with a shiny head isn’t even from the neighborhood he’s just another version of JVB, only caring about his pockets and contributions and how to expand his portfolio. Juan will gentrify Sunnyside if elected I know this because I’ve seen people like him run before for office. They will easily sell out their constituents and try to move onto the next bigger more profitable picture.

Sunny Rose

Should have asked Ardilas video team to Stream the event since They were blocking way front and center.


Very surprised. No questions on the decking of sunnyside yards and/or the 421A tax abatement. Would have been nice to hear the candidates share their views on these topics.


Nolan and Meeks endorsed Johanna Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident and lawyer. She worked special victims in the Brooklyn DAs office—and later on behalf of first responders for 9/11 compensation.

Ardila worked… for Brad Lander? And pushes papers for a nonprofit organization? The guy’s an out of depth puppet for the DSA caucus.

DSA glommed on to Juan Ardila because they thought he could beat Bob Holden in a low-turnout primary for the Maspeth/Juniper/Ridgewood Council District. Well, after that didn’t work out they want to dump Juan on Sunnyside. No thanks.

Gardens Watcher

DSA chased away any other “progressive” candidates so they wouldn’t cannibalize their own, like they did in the city council primary for JVB’s seat.


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