Arelis Martinez, the 51st Assembly Democratic District Leader (Sunset Park, Red Hook), yesterday responded to the New Kings Democrats (NKD) endorsement of Genesis Aquino for the district leader race.
The nine-year incumbent District Leader was not in attendance for the NKD meeting in which the club also endorsed Cynthia Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor.
Martinez insisted that she was not invited to the meeting, but NKD Vice President of Political Affairs Emily Hoffman told KCP that the organization reached out to Martinez on four occasions, via phone, email and social media. On the later channel, social media, Martinez admits she does not have much savvy.
Whether the District Leader missed or ignored the invite, Martinez has further doubts about NKD’s endorsement.
“I’ve seen Aquino once in my life, and that was on Sunday,” said Martinez. “Not once have I seen her in the community.”
Martinez said while the NKD are free to endorse who they want, it seems premature to her.
“In order for you to talk about a progressive agenda, for me, you also have to accomplish some steps. If she (Aquino) can enumerate one thing, and I think that should be working in the community, then I would have more respect for the New Kings Democrats endorsement,” said Martinez.
Martinez said she is familiar with Aquino’s work with lawmakers in Albany, but being a district leader is about having your boots on the ground in the community.
“She volunteered for politicians in Albany this year, but I don’t know. She could be the puppet for somebody,” said Martinez.
Martinez said a good part of her role in the unpaid district leader position is helping appoint judges that are representative of the Sunset Park community. Martinez believes she has lived up to her role during her nine years serving.
“One of my responsibilities as a district leader is to choose the judges in my community. When I started, we didn’t have any Latinos. Last year with my pushing, and other Latino district leaders as well, we have four Latinos on the benches today. This year we have two more, so that’s progressive,” said Martinez.
Martinez also noted how operating as a district leader with few resources has been a labor of love for the community she serves.
“What I do, I do it for my community. Bringing it back to the people,” said Martinez.
“My position is to watch the leaders who have budgets in their accounts and do the high stakes work. I’m in the churches and schools of the community doing the groundwork. I don’t have a budget to do this or to do that. I do it from the bottom of my heart and I have for years,“ she added.
Still, Martinez commends Aquino for rising to the challenge and has no hard feelings towards her.
“I respect Aquino that she has encouragement to say ‘hey I can do the job’. So let see what happens.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that District Leader Martinez was not invited to the New Kings Democrats endorsement meeting. Martinez was invited.