Ari Espinal celebrated with friends and family last night after she won in a State Assembly race in the borough’s only special election.  

    At Tony’s Pizzeria in Corona, Espinal thanked her supporters as she will head to Albany as a State Assemblywoman.

    Espinal, the only candidate on the ballot, ran for the seat after her former boss Francisco Moya was elected to the City Council last year. The 39th Assembly District seat covers Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst, neighborhoods that Espinal represented as a district leader.

    I am so honored to have the opportunity to represent Corona, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst in the Assembly. I grew up in this community, and I am ready to fight for my neighbors when I get to Albany. This is a responsibility that I take very seriously, and I will work hard every day to deliver for the working families that call Central Queens home. From securing funding for our schools, to supporting immigrants in our community, to fighting for more affordable housing and smart development, I am excited to get to work,” said Espinal in a victory statement.

     “I would not be here today without the hard work and support of my parents who came to this country from the Dominican Republic and gave my sister and me the foundation we needed to succeed. I also must thank City Councilmember Francisco Moya, for giving me my first job in government and being my mentor. I learned so much while serving in your office, and I am ready to use this knowledge and experience to build on your legacy,” she added.

    Newly Elected Assemblywoman Ari Espinal, left with her mentor, City Council Member Francisco Moya. Photo by BRandon Jordan

    The lifelong Corona resident anticipated representing these neighborhoods as its State Assemblymember. She thanked the support of various elected officials and organizations for her run.

    “This is a responsibility that I take very seriously, and I will work hard every day to deliver for the working families that central Queens home,” she said.

    Espinal thanked Moya, who was in attendance, as a mentor during her political career since she was 13. She couldn’t imagine going to Albany while Moya stayed in New York City.  

    “That’s something I’m having a hard time with because he has shown me everything and I have to thank you,” he said.

    She also addressed claims such as “handpicked candidate” and “unqualified” when referring to her campaign. Espinal said she would begin her campaign trail that night and “kick ass in September.”

    “Whoever calls me unqualified will have to call me the Assemblywoman who is unqualified,” she said.

    Moya offered a few words before Espinal’s speech and said he felt proud for what Espinal accomplished. He looked forward to her time in Albany as a State Assemblywoman.

    “Tonight is your night,” said Moya. “You are a champion, you are a leader, you are someone I love and admire, and I could not be where I am today if it wasn’t for you.”

    Espinal will serve Moya’s remaining State Assembly term and will run her first re-election campaign later this year.

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