By Aminta Kilawan Narine, Esq.
Hers is one of the most exciting elections in the City and the district includes Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park. Felicia Singh, Democratic Nominee for City Council in District 32 is running in one of the last remaining Republican-held city council seats in the borough of Queens. While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1 in District 32, its constituents have consistently been represented by a Republican for the last 12 years. Council Member Eric Ulrich holds one of only three remaining Republican-held seats in the New York City Council. He is term-limited.
Singh is a teacher, daughter of working-class immigrants, and life-long resident in Ozone Park. She has received endorsements from the Working Families Party and many labor unions. Since Singh’s campaign’s inception, a wave of oft-overlooked voters have renewed excitement in the political process, including countless immigrants and working class people. In the past few weeks, her campaign has picked up significant traction, receiving support from big names in the political arena, both at the national and local level.
On September 27, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his endorsement of Singh. “I am proud to endorse Felicia Singh, Democratic nominee for the 32nd City Council District,” said Senator Schumer. “This race is one of the most important in New York City because it is a chance to flip the last Republican seat in Queens. District 32 was part of my previous congressional district, and this is why I am confident that Felicia is the right choice for this community.”
Nirmala Singh, a Guyanese immigrant, community organizer and resident of District 32 was among the first Indo-Caribbeans to organize a canvassing event for Felicia Singh alongside fellow organizers Mohamed Q. Amin and Ramdat Singh. “I got tired of being underrepresented at the table and want to build more inclusive political power in our Indo-Caribbean communities,” Singh said. “Felicia’s victory in this race will warrant change, a new day full of meaningful representation for our people. Felicia has a vision and plan for creating equity and bringing the resources that our communities have been denied for so many years.”
Singh also received the endorsement of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “We need a leader in the City Council that will be ready on day one to fight to ensure the voters of the 32nd council district are getting their fair share of educational resources, getting infrastructure upgrades, and getting a just COVID recovery,” said Richards. “I am supporting Felicia because I know she’ll put the needs of people over politics.” In the 2020 Queens Borough President race, Donovan Richards defeated Singh’s current opponent, Joann Ariola, who ran unopposed as a Republican. In a landslide victory, Richards emerged the winner with over two thirds of the vote. Singh has received more in contributions with $74,965 as compared to Ariola’s $43,231.
Ariola, who is the chairperson of the Queens GOP, has been the subject of controversy as the election draws near. A recent Daily News article uncovered that photos which were previously featured on the Queens Republican Party’s social media profiles of Ariola and Phillip Grillo posing together had been taken down. Grillo, of Queens, was arrested by the FBI for storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The photos of Grillo and Ariola ironically disappeared shortly after she won the June 22 Republican primary. Ariola has publicly defended Grillo stating that he is “entitled to his day in court.”
Referencing the photos, Singh said of her opponent: “She is providing a dishonest representation of herself to voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans significantly in this district, and by hiding who she is it is an acknowledgment that she can’t win if voters know the truth about her history and alliances.”
If Singh wins the general election, she would be the first woman, the first Punjabi and Guyanese person, as well the first with her identities as Sikh and Muslim to represent District 32 in the City Council.
The General Election will be held on November 2 and voters will be able to cast their ballots early from October 23 to 31. To learn more about Singh’s campaign visit felicia2021.com. To find your polling site visit https://findmypollsite.vote.nyc.
P.S. As a resident of District 32, I will proudly be casting my vote for Felicia Singh.