On June 27, New Yorkers who are registered Democrats will be able to participate in their party’s primary election, which will determine the Democratic candidate for the general election to be held on Nov. 7.
Vying to represent District 21 on NYC Council is Democrat Hiram Monserrate, a long-time politician and former Marine and New York State Senator.
Monserrate has a long history of public service. In 1984, at just 17-years-old he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves where he received the National Defense Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal.
Following his service as a Marine, he joined the New York Police Department (NYPD) where he “became a fierce advocate against racial profiling, police brutality and discrimination against minorities,” his campaign website reads.
“During his tenure in the NYPD, he spearheaded one of the largest class action lawsuits against the NYPD for discrimination and disparate treatment that resulted in the largest settlement at that time and just as importantly, long term changes to the Department’s disciplinary system,” it adds.
Monserrate made history in 2001 when he became the first Latino to be elected to public office in Queens, where he chaired the Veterans Committee and spearheaded a multi-million dollar initiative to open veterans’ resource centers throughout the five boroughs.
While serving on the NYC Council, he was the co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, where he led his colleagues to ensure the passage of living wage legislation and fought attempts to cut funding for programs combating infant mortality and HIV/AIDS.
In 2008 he served as a Presidential Delegate to the Democratic National Convention where former president Obama was nominated as the Democratic nominee for president.
Also in 2008, he was elected to represent the communities of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Astoria and Woodside in the 13th Senatorial District in Queens.
Following a ten year hiatus, he was then elected Democratic District Leader in the 35th Assembly District.
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A controversial figure
Monserrate’s political career has come with its fair share of controversy. In 2021, the New York City Council passed a law, known colloquially as “Hiram’s Law” which sought to prevent Monserrate from running for office.
However, this law was recently struck down by Supreme Court Justice Machelle Sweeting on the grounds that the retroactive application of the law was deemed unconstitutional.
The law was in response to Monserrate being convicted of funneling City Council money to a nonprofit that was then used to fund his successful state Senate campaign.
IN 2012, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for the crime, prompting many to argue that he has paid his debt to society.
“Today, the New York State Supreme Court struck down an unconstitutional NYC law that infringed upon the voter’s right to choose — and by that finding, I will have the opportunity to run for City Council again,” Monserrate said following the judge’s ruling according to AMNY. “Government should never misuse its power to quash dissent nor favor one candidate over the other in political races,” he added.
Monserrate has a long history of advocating for public safety, believes healthcare is a human right, has fought to bring property tax relief for small landlords, and argues for a sustainable solution to the City’s homelessness problems.
“I’m running to keep our community safe. My wife and I are raising our 3-year-old son here. I saw the crime in the 80’s and 90’s and what it did to our neighborhoods and it is happening again!” Monserrate wrote on his campaign website when he ran for NYS Assembly to represent District 35 in 2022.
He advocated for a change in bail laws that allowed dangerous criminals back onto the streets with no bail and argued for more police funding so that “we can have real neighborhood policing and enough cops to patrol our community.”
He helped enact the NYS Gun Traffickers Law that aimed to deter the illegal sale of handguns in the Big Apple and advocated for state funding for mental health services, facilities and more outreach to the homeless population.
Registered Democrat voters in the City’s 21st District will have the opportunity to decide on whether or not they want Monserrate to be their Democratic candidate this June 27, and if successful he will be on the ballot for the general election for New York City Council this Nov. 7.