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Meet the Candidates Running for Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland's Seat

By Katie Honan | June 27, 2017 9:51am
 The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland shocked her district when she announced this spring that she would not seek re-election at the end of the year.

She was the chair of the finance committee and considered a front-runner for speaker of the council — but said she's leaving politics to spend more time with her family.

The race is on for her replacement, with five people so far registering to run. 

The primary will be held Sept. 12, 2017.

Cristina Furlong

A longtime community activist focusing on street safety, Furlong felt compelled to run for public office after Ferreras-Copeland's announcement. 

Her focus on the campaign is affordable housing. As large-scale developments and renovations continue throughout the neighborhoods, she wants to make sure residents have places to live. 

"It's a really big one I worry about, for myself included, as a renter in a very expensive, gentrifying neighborhood," Furlong told DNAinfo in an interview earlier this month.

Another focus is school overcrowding, she said. 

As an activist, she has experience making calls to public officials to spur change. Now she'd like to be involved in a different way, she said. 

"For the last few years there have been a lot of things I've been working on changing without a lot of power and authority," she said. "I want to be on the other side of the phone call."

Hiram Monserrate

The disgraced former state senator, who was booted from office after he was convicted of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend in 2009, announced his campaign for his former City Council seat in May.

He plans to move past his past — which also includes federal prison time for mail fraud and conspiracy.

“My mistakes are now in my past, several years ago. I have moved on, my life has moved forward, everything moves forward," he said in an interview on NY1.

He ran for an unpaid district leader position last year, losing by 57 votes.

And recently he's been a critic of the plan for Willets Point, which was recently dealt a blow by a ruling in the state's Appeals Court that favored those blocking the plan.

Monserrate said he has the neighborhood's encouragement as he runs.

"There is a very strong impulse in the community of support in this campaign," he said.

► Erycka Montoya

Erycka Montoya, who has worked as a community liaison with the City Council, said the election of President Donald J. Trump  — and former President Barack Obama's farewell speech — what pushed her into running for office.

"It was a thought that had crossed my mind a couple of times but I always shook it off," she said.

Ferreras-Copeland's announcement really cemented the idea to run in the district where she was raised. 

If elected, she'd like to improve quality of life but also more spaces for people to thrive, both in housing and in their small businesses.

"The rent burden on our people is too high," she said. "I think we can all agree that creating more affordable housing units is a must."

She said she's ready to stand out in the crowded field because she's not "bound to any former political negotiations and the strings that can come with them."

"I think my acute understanding and ability to relate to the struggles of the residents of the district means that I am able to authentically represent them, speak on their behalf, not for them," she told DNAinfo.

Francisco Moya

The current assemblyman for a larger portion of the area formally announced he was running for city council hours after Ferreras-Copeland said she would not seek another term. 

He hopes to continue his advocacy work for working-class residents, which is something he's pushed for in Albany, he said. 

His main issues are affordability, as well as relief for the district's overcrowded schools.

The born and raised Corona resident says there should be more investment in local schools, even if they can't easily construct new buildings. And he also plans to continue to fight for immigrants.

"When we have a Trump administration that's looking to attack cities like New York — over Sanctuary City, immigration, women's rights, worker's rights — those are the issues," he said.

► Yonel Letellier Sosa

The former chief of staff to Sen. Jose Peralta says he's moving "full steam ahead" in his campaign for City Council.

He was also the president of the Association of Latin American Leaders and  former president of New Visions Democratic Club.

After working with the community for nearly a decade with Peralta's office, he said stands out.

"I feel I'm very prepared," he said. "I've done a lot of work in the community."

If elected, he'd like to focus on quality of life issues, particularly Roosevelt Avenue. He'll also work to connect smaller block associations and neighborhood groups to beautify residential areas.

Sosa said he'll also continue to work for new immigrants who are "afraid" under President Donald J. Trump — making resources available to them and educating them about the city. 

"It's not going to be easy, this is a fight as always," he said.