Jan. 16, 2024 By Bill Parry
Sunnyside attorney and community leader Johanna Carmona formally launched her campaign to represent the 37th Assembly District in western Queens and unseat embattled Assembly Member Juan Ardila in the June Democratic primary.
Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident, and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, has worked in the Special Victims Bureau at the Brooklyn DA’s office and in private practice, she has also represented 9/11 first responders, victims and survivors by helping them access the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
From there, Carmona went to work as a court attorney in the Queens County Civil Court, where she currently serves as the Legislative Administrative Manager for City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
“As a lifelong resident of this community, I understand the challenges that my neighbors face, and the issues that have been ignored for far too long,” Carmona said. “From the recent fire that displaced hundreds of our neighbors in Sunnyside, to chronic flooding that has been destroying homes and endangering lives, our community is in dire need of an effective and compassionate representative in Albany. With threats to our education budget, attacks on women’s healthcare, and the worsening effects of climate change, we urgently need that leader now.”
Carmona supporters who were on hand for her campaign launch at Sanger Hall in Sunnyside last Thursday were angered by Ardila filing for re-election after he ignored widespread calls for him to resign after allegations emerged that he had sexually assaulted two women at a party in 2015.
Carmona ran unsuccessfully against Ardila in the 2022 Democratic primary, which was a vacant seat at the time since former Assembly Member Cathy Nolan decided to step down after being in office for 38 years. Nolan endorsed Carmona as her hand-picked successor in 2022. She once again endorsed Carmona at her campaign launch on Thursday, Jan. 11.
“Our families need someone who can fight for them, our seniors someone who can protect their programs and services, and our young professionals someone who understands today’s challenges,” Nolan said. “Tenants, small homeowners, coop and condo owners, small businesses, veterans, consumers, students, parents, teachers, workers, subway and bus riders, environmentalists, LGBTQIA+ activists, women facing reproductive health issues; everyone in the 37th AD needs a leader who is committed to their interests and has the skills and smarts to succeed in Albany.”
Nolan added that Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, Blissville, Hunters Point, Middle Village and Ridgewood need an effective leader to represent western Queens.
“Johanna Carmona is independent, compassionate, experienced and dedicated,” Nolan said. “She grew up in Sunnyside, interned in my district office in Ridgewood and Sunnyside and made her immigrant parents proud when she became a lawyer. Johanna has helped families in need, volunteered for neighborhood groups, protected women and children who were victims of sexual abuse and assisted 9/11 first responders get help. I hope she will have support in the 37AD primary and ask that voters cast their votes for Johanna Carmona.”
Jim Magee, president of the Western Queens Independent Democratic Club, was one of Carmona’s opponents in the crowded 2022 Democratic primary. He is supporting Carmona in the race against Ardila and Ridgewood democratic socialist Claire Valdez, a union organizer who was endorsed by the Working Families Party.
“While many politicians act only in self-interest, it is inspiring to see a candidate like Johanna who is compassionate and self-sacrificing,” Magee said. “As an accomplished attorney with her deep and varied experience, Johanna could have worked for a high-priced law firm — instead, she’s chosen to give back to the community by fighting for us in Albany. Unlike some, Johanna does not view politics as a career, but as a way to serve her community. Just a few weeks ago, when a fire displaced over 400 of our neighbors in Sunnyside, Johanna helped organize our community and operated one of the largest donation and relief drives we’ve ever seen. Johanna’s love for the community is genuine, and I urge all of my neighbors to take this opportunity to have an intelligent, experienced member of our community represent us in Albany.”
Community Education Committee 30 president Whitney Toussaint took direct aim at Ardila saying that he hasn’t done much and doesn’t even send a representative to their meetings.
“I can tell Johanna cares deeply about our children, and she will be a champion for our students, parents and educators as our Assembly Member,” Toussaint said. “While our district is home to many excellent schools, teachers, administrators, and active parents, there is still so much work to be done. The challenges that our schools contend with — crowded classrooms, budget cuts, needed building repairs, and an influx of asylum-seeking students — all require the resources and cooperation of our state elected officials. I know that Johanna shares our vision of an equitable school system which uplifts marginal communities, and that’s exactly why I support Johanna in her run for Assembly.”
Retired Queens Civil Court Judge David Hawkins called Carmona one of the best attorneys he ever worked with.
“Johanna is running for this district, she’s going to work for us, she’s not going to work for a bunch of ideologues, she’s not here with some self-important mission, she’s here for the community,” Hawkins said. “She’s going to be the assemblywoman we can count on.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.