June 2, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
A group of western Queens community leaders has come together to help Amit Bagga break away from a crowded field to win the 26th District council seat.
The group, dubbed 26 for 26, is co-chaired by Matthew Wallace, the chief of staff for the term-limited council member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Clara Oza, a public school parent coordinator from Sunnyside.
They hope to get Bagga elected in District 26, which encompasses Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria.
“I’ve seen firsthand just how much our kids and families have suffered through the pandemic, and we need a leader who [will] not just fight to bring us back, but deliver real results,” said Oza, a Community Board 2 member. “Amit is the only candidate with a proven track record of having done so.”
Wallace, who endorsed Bagga last month, says Bagga is someone who will not only be a part of the progressive wing of city council, but has the policy chops to lead it.
“No one else has proposed anything even close in terms of having the legislative prowess that Amit has shown. That really means something,” Wallace said.
The group also includes Deborah Tharrington, who is the director of constituent services for Van Bramer, plus Community Board 2 members Osman Chowdhury and Anatole Ashraf.
The other members include Dan Hochman, Laura Dadap, Zach Job, Dominic Stiller, Jean Cawley, Marco Barrios, Joe Oza, Jake Cohen, Judith Sloan, Brian Romero, Louis Wellington, Amanda and Max Lefer, Annie Seifullah, Sam Goldsmith, Hugh Baran, Ayaz Ahmed, Samina Wasti, Neha Gautam, Erin Koster, Rob Bass, Patti Pion, Natalie Fuertes and Adeline Medeiros.
Nick Berkowitz, a spokesperson for the Bagga campaign, says the group comes from a diverse array of occupations, ages and backgrounds, which is representative of the district’s makeup.
“These are just folks who understand what the stakes are of this election and are willing to do what it takes to get him elected,” Berkowitz said.
Chowdhury, a retired NYC taxi operator from Sunnyside, listed Bagga’s promise to cancel the city’s taxi medallion debt as part of the reason for his endorsement.
“ I support Amit not only because he would be the first South Asian New Yorker elected to the City Council, but because he knows the difficulties that all working, immigrant New Yorkers face first hand. He has the experience necessary to fix those difficulties,” said Chowdhury.
The group will be on hand this Saturday for a Working Families Party joint canvassing event this Saturday with the Bagga campaign, along with District 22 candidate Tiffany Caban and City Comptroller candidate Brad Lander. The event kicks off at 1 p.m. at Playground Thirty-Five in Dutch Kills.
Bagga has already racked up a number of endorsements from leading progressives, including State Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, former gubernatorial candidates Cynthia Nixon and Zephyr Teachout.
He is one of 15 Democratic candidates running for seat. The others are Julia Forman, Jesse Laymon, Ebony Young, Emily Sharpe, Hailie Kim, Badrun Khan, Denise Keehan-Smith, Julie Won, Lorenzo Brea, Glennis Gomez, Brent O’Leary, Jonathan Bailey, Steven Raga and Sultan Maruf.