Nick Haby is a former Hillary Clinton-supporting Democratic centrist, but subsequently seeing what he deemed as the party’s failure to become more inclusive during several local elections and after attending a Bernie Sanders rally in October in Long Island City that left him inspired, he has decided to put his money where his mouth is and run for the District Leader 36a position in Astoria.
“Seeing the corruption on the local level from the Queens Democratic Party broke the facade of how I viewed Democrats at large once I saw how they tried to suppress [U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Jackson Heights)] and her efforts,” said Haby. “When U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders came to that rally and [former district attorney candidate] Tiffany Cabán said ‘just run, just run for something – it was his message of just go for it and the idea of if I’m going to fight hard for myself I can also fight hard for strangers.
Haby is an openly gay Latino millennial and a Democratic Socialist that believes that the Queens County Democratic Party does not do an adequate job in recruiting new voices from marginalized communities that could represent the next generation of Democrats.
“This really affects how our politics and our community are heard,” said Haby. “I want to bring politics to people who might not be thinking about it, especially in the big election year that is coming up because the more that I do to amplify the issues that aren’t heard on the ground the better our communities survive.”
A district leader position is a voluntary political role that coordinates a political party’s function, helps determines the party’s boss and aids in the election of local judges.
Haby, a digital marketer, intends to use the role to also emphasize the needs of his community.
While doing a gymnastics routine in a march to support Ocasio-Cortez, Haby injured his Achilles tendon and has since become an advocate for Medicare-for-All, a single-payer national insurance program meant to provide comprehensive health coverage.
“I was denied medication, I was denied coverage and once I started putting my story out there, I heard more and more stories from people here in the neighborhood and Queens,” said Haby. “This is happening and maybe not everybody can amplify their story as much as I can, but more people need to share their stories to connect and make that happen.”
Haby is also a strong proponent for environmental justice, he wants to fight for better infrastructure, STEAM job careers and more efficient transportation.
“We can’t thrive as a community if we are stalled and can’t get where we need to go,” said Haby. “When the MTA was doing construction on 30th Avenue, all the businesses got hurt by that. I was shocked that Gov. Andrew Cuomo or the city wasn’t taking care of those businesses.”
It was a comment from former Queens County Democratic chairman and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and an endorsement for the late IDC-member state Sen. José Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) that pushed Haby to become progressive.
“The pinpoint for me was when I had a negative encounter with Joe Crowley,” said Haby who had asked the congressman about how he would win over progressive voters when it comes to healthcare. “He said ‘my opponent wants to make this election all about race and it’s not my fault that I was born white.'”
Haby found the race remark to be tone-deaf coming for a man that was at one point a contender to become the next Speaker of the House, a national role.
“Strike two was that as the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party he supported Peralta, a guy that was voting with Republicans,” said Haby. “He went against my own values as a centrist and I couldn’t keep defending that and act like that was okay.”
However, as a candidate for district leader, Haby hopes to defend the values of the people of Astoria and Queens.
“If elected I would make sure that all voices are heard and I want to hear from people who might not have faith in our Democratic process,” said Haby.