Socialist NY Senate hopeful missed 46% of community board meetings

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Socialist NY Senate hopeful missed 46% of community board meetings

A progressive who touted the need for accountability as she vies for state Senate was a no-show for her Queens community, records reveal.

Democratic socialist Kristen Gonzalez, who is running in a district that spans Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan — rarely attended Community Board 4 meetings during her 2018-2022 tenure.

Attendance records show Gonzalez missed 46% of CB 4’s meetings in that time, a figure which constitutes “substantial nonattendance,” according to the board’s code of conduct.

During her time at the board, which covers a swath of struggling Queens neighborhoods including Corona, Elmhurst, Newtown, and LeFrak City, Gonzalez missed:

  • An April 2020 discussion about securing pandemic relief by naming the CB4 area a “disaster zone” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A June 2019 meeting, which included a once in half-century vote on rezoning in LeFrak City.
  • In December 2018 a mandatory training from the city’s Conflict of Interest Board.

Community board votes are advisory in nature, but nevertheless carry weight among city agencies and officials.

Gonzalez missed 46% of CB 4's meetings from 2018-2022.
Gonzalez missed 46% of CB 4’s meetings from 2018-2022.
Kristen Gonzalez for New York/Fa

The public tardiness flies in the face of Gonzalez’s own campaign rhetoric, in which she has extolled her commitment to public office.

“It is so important to elect someone to Albany who will be accountable to the communities they serve,” Gonzalez said during a primary debate last month.

Gonzalez’s repeated absence from CB 4 didn’t surprise Frank Seddio, a longtime take-no-prisoners Brooklyn powerbroker.

“They’re all full of s–t. ‘Oh I’m a progressive. I’m gonna be there,’ and then they don’t show up,” he said. “It’s sad and regrettable. That’s one of the main requirements, that you attend the meetings. How much input can you have if you don’t participate.”

Seddio, the former Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman, said he was backing former councilwoman Liz Crowley, a moderate, in the race.

Gonzalez — a product manager for American Express — is now locked in a ferocious primary for New York’s 59th State Senate district which covers Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, and a slice of eastern Manhattan.

She faces Nomiki Konst, a fellow socialist and one-time candidate for Public Advocate, and Crowley, a former city councilwoman.

State Senator Jessica Ramos criticized Gonzalez's record in a text exchange that recently went public.
State Senator Jessica Ramos criticized Gonzalez’s record in a text exchange that recently went public.
Paul Martinka

Gonzalez has locked up the endorsements of most of the city’s blue-chip lefties, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, but her failures to attend community board meetings have stirred the ire of some progressives.

“I don’t trust that people who don’t show up to community board meetings will show up for constituents and workers,” State Senator Jessica Ramos said of Gonzalez in a heated text exchange with Astoria District Leader Shawna Morlock, that was later posted to Twitter.

Gonzalez has also been accused of siccing her followers on her opponents.

“Your tactics against us have encouraged supporters of yours to threaten, harass & physically intimidate me, our team & supporters. We don’t feel safe & it’s got to end, now. Nobody should be afraid to run, speak out or campaign,” Konst tweeted last month.

Pundits say the presence of two socialists in the race offers an opportunity for Crowley, a relative moderate.

“It is realistic that two progressives could split the vote and ensure a win for Elizabeth Crowley,” said veteran New York Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “She is a former councilwoman, she has higher name ID, she starts out with an advantage, and their presence maintains that advantage.”

There are no public polls in the race. Konst and Crowley have not previously served on community boards.

“I’m proud of the work I did alongside fellow board members like City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, who endorsed our campaign, as well as the mutual aid work I was doing at that time. But it’s clear our opponents would rather talk about some monthly general meetings I missed while chairing other work on the board and attending Executive Committee meetings than what this election is actually about: money versus people,” Gonzalez said.

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