By Robert Golomb
George Onuorah, 62, who is challenging one term incumbent City Councilmember Francisco Moya in this coming June 22nd’s Democratic primary in the 21st District- which covers Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona in Queens, Lefrak City, Flushing Meadows Park and LaGuardia Airport- told me in a recent interview that he made his decision to challenge Moya on June 1, 2020. That was the night, he explained, that the latter voted to approve the 2020 NYC Council’s budget, which passed by a 32-17 margin.
“I couldn’t believe that Mr. Moya would vote for a budget that is so harmful to every citizen in New York, including the good, honest, hardworking people right here in the 21st District,” stated Onuorah, an author, 2 term member of the Queens Community Board 4, media consultant and entrepreneur and a director of several national and international non-profit charitable organizations.
During our sixty-minute interview, Onuorah directed his criticism of Moya’s support of the 2020 budget to 3 of its most contentious provisions.
The first related to the budget’s $1 billion (20%) reduction for funding the NYPD. Onuorah, the father of 2 adult daughters, noted that violent crime is increasing in all 5 boroughs of NYC and contended that the reduction of the funds to the police, a provision supported by the left -wing activists in the Democratic Party, has made life far less safe for New Yorkers.
“It is mind boggling that Councilman Moya voted to decrease police funding during our current public safety crisis. As a father and as a concerned New Yorker, I fear, many innocent New Yorkers will be more vulnerable to violent criminals because of his and his colleagues’ misguided extreme left- wing policies,” Onuorah charged.
Citing official NYPD crime data to support his criticism of Moya’s voting in favor of reducing police funding, Onuorah noted that there were 447 murder victims in NYC in 2020, a 41% increase over 2019, and that there were 1531 shootings more than double that also of 2019.
“The tragic trend continues,” stated Onuorah. “Less cops result in less protection for New Yorkers, and less protection results in an increase in homicides and other horrible violent crimes. If only Councilman Moya could figure that out.”
The second provision of the budget, which Onuorah contended should have caused Moya to vote against it, was the $4 million (12%) decrease in funding for the NYC Department For the Aging. That agency, Onuorah explained, offers a host of programs to seniors, including providing transportation, meals and recreational services for the elderly. Onuorah elaborated that out of the 5 boroughs those reductions will probably have the most severe impact upon Queens, because, he stated, almost a third of the city’s senior citizens live there.
“Mr. Moya’s vote in favor of the budget was a vote against the respected and beloved seniors across the entire city, including right here in Queens,” stated Onuorah.
Lastly, Onuorah focused on the $457 million (nearly 40% ) budget reduction for funding for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) which, he asserted, was still another reason why Moya should not have voted to approve the budget.
To support that criticism, Onuorah referred to a recent study conducted by the New York Housing Conference, which found that the cuts to HPD have resulted in the elimination of funding for approximately 21,000 affordable family housing units. In addition, Onuorah pointed out, the same study projected that as a result of HPD’s funding decreases, coupled with the financial devastation caused by the COVID 19 epidemic, a rising number of low-income families could soon face homelessness.
“Casting a vote leading to the elimination of financing for the affordable housing of 21,000 families would be heartless even were we living in the best of financial times. But under the current COVID 19 related financial crisis, which has hit low-income earners and families living in affordable housing the hardest, calling his vote heartless is actually an understatement,” Onuorah charged.
Onuorah promised that if he wins the June primary and goes on to win the general election in November (a virtual certainty for him or any Democrat in the 21st CDwhich overwhelmingly favors Democrats over Republicans in voter party registration), he will vote against approving a similar budget, if proposed in 2021.
“The City Council will, I fear, submit as horrible a budget in 2021 as it did in 2020. Only this time, if I am elected I will be there to stop it. And I promise I will fight to redirect the money to programs that will make NY a safer and more compassionate city,” Onuorah pledged.
While Onuorah at the time of this writing appears to me to be the most viable challenger to Moya, there are 5 other Democratic candidates in the 21st CD -all with far-left political backgrounds-also vying to unseat the incumbent.
However, rather than fearing that the anti- Moya vote could be split between himself and the 5 other candidates, Onuorah told me that he believes these 5 progressive candidates will significantly divide Moya’s support on the left, leaving him, Onourah, with a clear path to victory, as the only moderate among the 5.
“I believe that because the 5 other candidates in the race share Moya’s extreme positions, I will be the only choice of the party’s moderate Democrats,” he conjectured. “Be aware, even as we speak, my campaign staff is reaching out to and sending our message to these moderates of all ages and backgrounds whom I believe will be the key to our victory in June.”
After all the votes cast in the 21st CD Democratic Primary on June 22nd are counted that night and the next morning, we will know whether or not that key worked.
Robert Golomb is a nationally and internationally published columnist. Mail him at MrBob347@aol.com and follow him on Twitter@RobertGolomb