September 8, By Tara Law
Francisco Moya and Hiram Monserrate, who are facing each other in a Democratic primary race next week, attacked each other’s character during a heated debate on New York 1 Wednesday as they vie for the city council seat representing the district that covers all or part of East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights.
Moya, who has represented much of the district as an Assemblyman since 2010, began the debate by describing his accomplishments, including the passage of the “Raise the Age” criminal justice reform initiative; passing the $15 statewide minimum wage law; and increasing funding for local schools. For the majority of the debate, however, he focused on Monserrate’s criminal past.
Monserrate claimed that Moya is a cog in the Queens Democratic machine. Monserrate was a councilman from 2002 to 2008 and a state senator for a year, before he was expelled after being convicted of third-degree assault. He was charged for slashing his girlfriend’s face with a drinking glass.
Moya discussed Monserrate’s criminal history at length. In May 2012, Monserrate pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, after using $100,000 in public money meant for nonprofit Libre toward his 2006 political campaign. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Moya said Monserrate’s candidacy can not be taken seriously. He said that his opponent’s “violent and corrupt criminal past has become a laughing stock in the city of New York, and especially in our community.
“It’s a joke that this man is running for public office,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of a bank robber applying to be a bank teller. On September 12th, honesty and integrity will win out.”
He condemned Monserrate for failing to apologize for his actions and referred to the idea of Monserrate holding public office as “repugnant.”
“This is the poster child of corruption,” said Moya. “This is an individual who belongs nowhere near public money.”
Monserrate denied stealing money, and countered that Moya had engaged in similar behavior.
He said that Moya is “supported by the machine and the lobbyists and the politicians,” and accused him of living in a penthouse in Long Island City instead of with his elderly father in Corona. He also accused Moya of using the Dominican American Society to collect signatures.
New York 1 Moderator Errol Flynn voiced his frustration that the politicians were more interested in criticizing each other than addressing the issues. He threatened to turn off their microphones if they continued to speak over each other.
Throughout the debate, however, both candidates seemed defiant.
“I’m going to beat you in LeFrak, I’m going to beat you in East Elmhurst, I’m going to beat you in Corona, because you belong nowhere in political service,” Moya told Monserrate.
To view NY1 debate, click here