LIC activist running for Nolan’s seat : Mary Jobaida would be Assembly’s first-ever Bangladeshi-American rep


Long Island City progressive activist Mary Jobaida is running for Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan’s seat. If the incumbent decides to run for re-election, the two will face off in a June 2020 Democratic primary.

Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019 10:30 am

by Ryan Brady, Editor 

Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City), an Assembly member since 1985, will face her first primary challenge in more than a decade if she runs for re-election next year.

Mary Jobaida, a community activist who lives in LIC, has filed paperwork with the Board of Elections to run for the western Queens district.

The mother of three, a resident of the district for more than 15 years, would be the first-ever Bangladeshi American in the Assembly if elected.

“For all that our country does to serve as a beacon of democracy around the world, having only one name to choose from on a local ballot is not what true democracy looks like,” Jobaida said in a statement. “That is why I wish to be the face of change and true democracy in my district.”

Nolan said she hasn’t made a decision yet about running for re-election but would make an announcement “[a]t an appropriate time.”

“I continue to work on labor, education, environmental, veterans, economic development, infrastructure, and many other family issues both in Albany and our Western Queens district and will continue to do so every day of my term,” the assemblywoman said in an email, adding, “2020 is a long time away and it will be up to the residents of the 37AD to decide who will represent them.”

Voting in the 2020 state and congressional primaries will take place in June rather than September due to a recent change in state law.

Like many left-leaning insurgent candidates, Jobaida will not be taking campaign contributions from real estate developers, lobbyists and corporate PACs. Jobaida said her “campaign’s top priorities” are fighting for public financing of state elections and against the enormous political influence of the real estate and fossil fuel industries on the state Legislature.

She wants to take on the city’s widening wealth gap, too.

“Economic inequality comes in many forms, affecting people of all genders and backgrounds, but especially those that are not considered employees in today’s gig economy,” Jobaida said in an email to the Chronicle. “I plan on unveiling many different measures during my campaign that will help close the gap that so many underrepresented New Yorkers are falling into, including 1099 filers.”

She disagreed with Nolan’s support of New York’s deal to give Amazon a $3 billion incentive package to establish a headquarters facility at the Anable Basin, later nixed.

The activist and the 34-year-incumbent differ on other issues, too. Jobaida has committed to term-limiting herself if elected, saying no one should hold an elective office for more than a decade.

Jobaida works as an outreach specialist at Urban Health Plan, Inc. in the Bronx.

Nolan’s district includes LIC and sections of Astoria, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside. It has undergone tremendous gentrification and demographic change since she was first elected in 1984 and partially overlaps with that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens, Bronx).

Other left-leaning challengers across the city are taking on incumbents in 2020 elections as well. Jobaida was not even the only one in Queens to announce a campaign last week: It was then that Democratic socialist Shaniyat Chowdhury revealed that he would be challenging Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), boss of the borough Democratic machine. (