District 21 Corona/East Elmhurst

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?


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Primary Election Results

Hiram Monserrate 3,718
Luis A. Rosero 2,459
Angel Del Villar 1,550
Aida A. Gonzalez-Jarrin 1,315
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Helen M. Marshall (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Hiram Monserrate (Dem/Lib/Gre/Wor)

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Contributors to Marvin Bentley
Contributors to Angel Del Villar
Contributors to Mary France-Daniels
Contributors to Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin
Contributors to Hiram Monserrate.
Contributors to Luis Rosero.

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 21

Campaign Feature:

Eyes on the Ground

The runways at LaGuardia Airport are notoriously crowded, creating flight delays throughout the country. But the candidates for City Council from District 21, which includes the airport, are more concerned about other over-taxed facilities in the area, particularly its schools.

Every flight increase at LaGuardia causes "more traffic, air pollution and noise," says candidate Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin. Despite that, says Angel Del Villar, "There are a lot more home issues that I'd like to tackle" before turning attention to LaGuardia's headaches. His opponents apparently agree.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.


  • Hispanic: 57%
  • Asian: 18%
  • White, non-Hispanic: 14%
  • Black, non-Hispanic: 11%

Median income: $47,884 (ranks 24 out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 10%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

District 21 includes East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. New arrivals from Peru, Ecuador and India, among other countries, have shifted the demographic makeup of some neighborhoods that were once largely Italian and African-American and put pressure on schools and housing.

The candidates, among them a pastor, lawyer, teacher, newspaper publisher and a former police officer, all want the city to address overcrowding in schools, some of which have twice as many students as they were built to hold. But the politicians do not all agree on what the best solution is to the problem.

"There is money. There is plenty of money," in the school board budget, says Angel Del Villar, an attorney who advocates building more schools to house what candidate Luis Rosero calls "the largest generation of students ever" in the district.

But another candidate, Marvin Bentley, who served on the community school board for seven years, says it may not be that simple. "It's trying to find a space we can buy with the money available" that is the problem, he says.

Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin, the former director of Cultural Affairs of Queens who's also in the race, cites a different obstacle. "Some efforts to build new schools meet with resistance from some communities," she says. In the short term, Gonzalez-Jarrin proposes year-round classes, while Del Villar suggests busing students to less crowded schools.

Overcrowding is not the only educational issue. "We're losing some of the best teachers to other school systems" because of salary gaps, says Hiram Monserrate, a Democratic district leader, adding that this "doesn't just impact my district, but the whole city."

Alluding to two recent sexual assaults in area schools, Francisco Moya, another candidate who is also a Democratic district leader, says, "We need to protect our children and educate our children." Moya says money is needed to provide guards and electronic surveillance in schools.

Candidate and teacher Mary France-Daniels thinks that some of the school system's problems could be alleviated by increased parental involvement. "A lot of parents are intimidated by the system," she says, adding that she hopes to create parent advocacy centers to help parents play a greater role in their children' education.

The influx of people into the district has put a strain on housing, creating what Monserrate calls "one of the most severe shortages of adequate, affordable housing" in the city. To remedy the situation, Bentley says the city as a whole must look at lower-income housing initiatives. "This mayor is one of the few mayors in recent years who hasn't put together a housing program at all," he says.

With the former director of Cultural Affairs for Queens, a former staff member for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and three current or former Democratic district leaders among those vying for a seat on the City Council, this is a very competitive race. But all the contenders professed optimism about their prospects. When asked who is the candidate to beat, most named themselves.

To try to win in this diverse district, the candidates are focusing on issues that cut across racial and ethnic boundaries. James Lisa, a former Democratic district leader and the publisher of the Queens Times, for one, says, "You can't have splinter groups going off in different directions."

Most of the issues mentioned by the candidates, such as hospital administrator Moya's call for increased health services and programs for seniors, affect the community at large.

Economic development is another such concern. "The majority of people haven't felt this boom we've had in recent years," says France-Daniel, and with a recession looming "this needs to be addressed." Rosero echoes these sentiments, calling for increased governmental assistance to local small businesses, the "lifeline of the community."

The noise and traffic created at LaGuardia presents another problem that affects all kinds of people in the 21st district. It just isn't at the top of the list.

posted 4/27/01

Candidate Biographies

Marvin Bentley is pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church of Corona. He is the president of the Corona East Elmhurst Clergy Association and has served on the community school board.

Albertha Butts-Brinson: no information available

Jairo Casas: no information available.

Angel Del Villar heads a community-based law firm in Corona and is co-founder and president of the Dominican-Hispanic Congress for Community Empowerment.

Mary France-Daniels is an activist and teacher. She has served on the New York State Regent's Committee on Low-Performing Schools and was formerly director of the Office of Parent Involvement.

Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin was until recently director of Cultural Affairs of Queens and has also served as a Democratic district leader.

Daniel Jimenez: no information available

James Lisa is a former Democratic district leader, the executive co-leader of the Northside Democratic Association, and publisher of the Queens Times.

Hiram Monserrate is a Democratic district leader and has served as a police officer and in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is on the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Francisco Moya is the associate director for strategic planning and business development at Elmhurst Hospital, president and co-founder of the Corona Gardens Neighborhood Association, a former presidential fellow, and a Democratic district leader.

Luis Rosero has worked as a staff member for U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and served on the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. He is currently press secretary for the National Hispanic Outreach Office of the Democratic National Committee.

Campaign Trail

Angel Del Villar, a candidate for City Council district 21 in Corona and East Elmhurst, Queens, was present at a cop killer's hideout in 1992 where plans were made for the gunman's escape. Del Villar was working as a bouncer at the Palm Club in Bayside, Queens, on July 18, 1992, when another bouncer, Patrick Bannon, fatally shot two men and wounded a third after a brawl outside the club on Bell Boulevard. "My statement is I had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting or death of anyone that night," he said. "I fully cooperated with the district attorney's office. That's my statement." Timothy Nickels, president of the housing police union at the time of the slaying, expressed outrage that Del Villar was running for public office. (Daily News)

Queens' 21st District has seen a huge influx of immigrants from Latin America and is about to elect its first Hispanic councilmember. Who that will be is at the center of a fierce competition among four candidates in the Democratic primary. (New York Times)


Newsday announces its endorsements in a number of Queens City Council races.

District 21. "Despite the ethnic conflict dividing various Latino communities in the district, the four candidates - all Latinos - are evenly matched. . . .Luis Rosero is the most appealing. . . .His background gives him intimate knowledge of government and politics. His contacts at the federal level wouldn't hurt, either. He also understands the common concerns of a diverse population."

One thing is certain about the Corona-East Elmhurst City Council race in district 21: It will produce the first elected Latino representative from Queens. The Queens Democratic party made sure of that when it knocked two African Americans off the ballot through petition challenges.The smart money in the race is on Hiram Monserrate, the Democratic organization-backed candidate. But the other Democratic candidates - Aida Gonzalez-Jarrin, Angel Del Villar and Luis Rosero - say they also have a chance to win. (Daily News)

In the 21st Council District - drawn 10 years ago with the expressed purpose of electing a Hispanic to the City Council - politicians of Dominican and Ecuadorian descent are openly complaining of what they call Puerto Rican dominance of Latino politics in New York. The strong rivalries are making it possible - some say likely - that the primary victory in September will go not to a Latino, but to a longtime black activist and minister, the Rev. Marvin J. Bentley, a resident of the small but politically powerful African-American community of East Elmhurst. (Newsday)

With the April 30 deadline for undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residency status looming, Hispanic and labor activists hit the streets of Corona to spread the word about immigration law. (Daily News)

Declaring voting to be "the most effective weapon against racism," 21st Council District candidate Angel Del Villar of Corona announces he will conduct a voter registration drive. (Western Queens Gazette)

Despite overcrowding, Queens schools perform better than many of their coutnerparts in New York City. .(Western Queens Gazette)

Queens schools were short some 27,000 seats in 2000. (Western Queens Gazette)

An overview of Queen City Council races. (Queens Tribune)



Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.

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Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart


Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Right to Life
Working Families
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.

Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)

2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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