City Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm this week endorsed Melissa Sklarz in her primary race to unseat Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Woodside, Maspeth, Middle Village, Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside) in the 30th Assembly District.
If successful in her campaign, Sklarz will make history as the first transgender woman to hold the position. Dromm and Van Brammer, previously made history in 2009, as two of the first openly LGBT elected officials in the history of Queens.
“Her race is incredibly important, not only because she is going to make history, but because we particularly at this moment, we need progressive leaders. We need strong progressives in every level of government. And we need people who are going to do that in a way that makes us all proud,” said Van Bramer.
“This is a race that I think the country will take notice of at this particular point in time that is so important. From Harvey Milk to Roberta Achterberg to Tom Duane, and Deborah Glick, and yes, to Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Brammer, this is all part of a continuum and a historical march for full equality for all people and Melissa Sklarz is the latest person to join that incredible legacy,” he added.
Dromm noted how voters may be impressed not only with Sklarz’ experience, but her personal story as well, in which she was once homeless.
“One thing I’d also like to stress, especially to the media, is to look at Melissa’s story and how she has struggled to get where she is. I think that the people of this assembly district will identify with that struggle. We’ve all had our struggles to get to where we are and I think that the people of this district, once they know Melissa’s story, will say ‘This is the right woman for the job,’” Dromm said.
In accepting the endorsements, Sklarz took aim at Barwell’s inexperience having just gone to the assembly two years ago in his upset victory over longtime incumbent Margaret Market.
“Albany is complicated, it’s a complicated mix of personalities ideas and money. I’m better suited, I have more experience. I’ll take my 20 years experience, and compare it with my opponent’s 24 months. I’m really excited! I’ve spent these last five months out there, talking to people, talking to voters. Listening to people. community boards, precinct committees, and talking to elected officials. Now, I get a chance to walk the streets and talk to many voters as I can,” said Sklarz.
Sklarz was also critical Barnwell’s ostensible lack of progressiveness on women’s issues and protection for immigrants in the state.
In response, Barnwell told QCP that it’s ironic Sklarz talks about progressiveness on women’s issues because she backed and campaigned for Markey in the last election, who voted against the marriage equality bill.
“That’s not very progressive by Melissa. On women’s issues, I voted in favor of the Contraceptive Care Act in 2018 and introduced my own bill that guarantees a woman a right to choose by codifying current Supreme Court case-law (Casey v Planned Parenthood). Melissa has spent her whole time in Manhattan and Brooklyn in her whole career. She only started showing up locally when she decided to run for office,” said Barnwell.
“In regard to immigrants, I have voted in favor of protecting immigrant rights. We run various free legal clinics for immigrants, I have granted discretionary funding for immigration non-profits. We have 30 languages spoken at our office. I voted to prevent any religious registry or for anyone to obtain the NYC IDs. I co-sponsored the Dream Act. However, I voted against a bill that would allow those who are undocumented who have been convicted of murder or rape to be simply let go without a hearing. Melissa never mentions to the public that the bill lets convicted murderers or rapists simply let go. That’s wrong of her and she’s playing politics.
“However, I voted against a bill that would allow those who are undocumented who have been convicted of murder or rape to be simply let go without a hearing. Melissa never mentions to the public that the bill lets convicted murderers or rapists simply let go. That’s wrong of her and she’s playing politics, being a legislator, your main job is to read bills and vote on them. Being a lawyer is a great help to making sure loopholes are closed,” he added.
The primary is slated for Sept. 13.