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Monserrate runs on record in his bid for Assembly seat

When Democratic voters in the 39th state Assembly District head to the polls Sept. 14, former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate asks that they vote based on what he has done in the state Legislature, not the scandals of the past two years.

“I think when you judge someone, you have to judge them on the totality of the career and their life,” Monserrate said in an interview last week.

Monserrate, 43, was ousted from the Senate in February for an incident in December 2008 in which his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, ended up with a slashed face and he was eventually convicted of misdemeanor assault for dragging her through the lobby of his apartment building.

At first, the courts placed a full order of protection on Giraldo, preventing Monserrate from having any contact with her. The order of protection was reduced in July at both parties’ request, allowing them to see each other. They have since reconciled.

“I’ve made mistakes,” Monserrate said. “I apologize for those mistakes. I’ve apologized to Karla, to the community, to the women of this community.”

Monserrate is one of two Democratic candidates running for the 39th Assembly District seat, which encompasses Corona, Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights and has been left vacant after its former holder, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) ran for Monserrate’s old seat and won, beating out Monserrate. Community activist Francisco Moya is also running for Peralta’s vacated seat.

“I believe I have a lot more to offer this community, more than my opponent does,” Monserrate said.

Monserrate pointed to his political experience in explaining why he wanted to be a part of the Assembly. His political career began in 2001, when he was elected to the City Council, becoming the first Latino to be elected from Queens. Before taking public office, Monserrate had been a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and a city Police Department officer for 12 years.

Since he was elected soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, he said he has experience dealing with a budget in difficult fiscal times and electing him would mean the public would have an assemblyman who does not need on-the-job training.

“Hiram Monserrate has been there and has done that and he will go back to Albany and do that again,” he said.

Job creation is an essential issue of his campaign, Monserrate said, calling lack of employment opportunities one of the biggest problems facing the community. He said he has encouraged economic development in the past, helping foster the creation of Citi Field, the new stadium for the New York Mets completed in 2009, and advocating for $100 million in capital projects from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. He said this goal is encapsulated in his campaign slogan, “Let’s get Queens back to work.”

Monserrate’s other focus in his campaign is what he calls the lack of sanitation services around Roosevelt Avenue and Junction Boulevard.

“We can see that it’s just completely out of control, the amount of garbage and rubbish and paper being posted everywhere,” Monserrate said.

He hopes to solve this through securing state funding to pay for clean-up operations and an educational campaign for store owners and the community.

“There are a lot more people living here than the government thinks there are,” Monserrate said.

Monserrate said he believes he still has a base in the district. He said he had been an active legislator as a politician, and believed they would vote ‘the right way’ in the primary election.

“I’m not making promises,” Monserrate said. “I’m pointing to my record of real accomplishment.”

Reach Reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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