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DenDekker gets big welcome at Assembly swearing−in ceremony

A bevy of borough elected officials at the city, state and federal level turned out last weekend to support Democrat Michael DenDekker as he was sworn in as the new assemblyman for the 34th District following state Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette’s (D−Jackson Heights) decision last summer that he would not run for another term.

DenDekker, a former city Sanitation Department worker and actor, was sworn in Saturday afternoon in East Elmhurst by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D−Jackson Heights) before a crowd of several hundred people. He said western Queens elected officials had been supportive of his taking over Lafayette’s seat.

“I told [state Assemblywoman] Margaret Markey [D−Maspeth] that ‘I’m a garbageman from Queens,’ ” he said. “But she said, ‘This is a house of the people and you need to be here to represent your community.’ ”

DenDekker was handpicked by the Queens Democratic Party to run on the Democratic line after Lafayette said in July that he would step down in order to lead the state Insurance Department’s education and community outreach activities as its deputy superintendent for community affairs. Lafayette, 78, had served in the state Assembly for 32 years.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.) said he believed DenDekker would make a strong replacement for Lafayette. He said he would be able to meet the needs of the diverse district, which includes Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, East Elmhurst and Elmhurst.

“Many different groups of people move into the district,” Schumer said. “They are the backbone of New York City and America. When Ivan Lafayette stepped down, it was important that someone of his practical intelligence and compassion would step up. So, this is a great day for the 34th District.”

A number of other high−profile elected officials representing Queens, including Markey, Crowley and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D−Manhattan), said DenDekker has already been a champion for the borough through his work at the Sanitation Department, as well as in the city Office of Emergency Management.

“When I heard Michael DenDekker would run for Assembly, I was not happy,” Quinn said. “He is one of the best people we have working at City Hall.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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