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Assembly Candidate Who Advocates for Street Safety Drives Vehicle With Dozens of Violations

Juan Ardila speaking during a candidate forum at Sunnyside Community Services last month (L). The illegally parked Audi that he was seen getting into on Caldwell Avenue in Middle Village on May 25, 2021 (R) (Photos: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post (L) and Daniel Kurzyna, who worked on the 2021 Bob Holden reelection campaign (R))

June 16, 2022 By Christian Murray

Juan Ardila, a candidate running to represent western Queens in the state Assembly and a crusader against car culture, drives a compact sports utility vehicle that has racked up nearly 30 traffic violations since 2019.

The black Audi Q3 has been hit with multiple speed camera violations in school zones in the vicinity of Queens Boulevard and 55th Street. The vehicle has been ticketed for blocking crosswalks, parking in front of fire hydrants to obstructing driveways. There is also a bus lane violation, and a violation for blocking a pedestrian ramp.

Multiple people have told the Queens Post that he drives the vehicle and have provided photos and videos of him in it. He is often seen driving through western Queens as he campaigns to represent the 37th Assembly District, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ridgewood and Maspeth.

His critics argue that his violations undermine his campaign, since he is a staunch advocate for street safety. His platform calls for conflict-free protected bicycle lanes, pedestrian safety measures and an end to car culture. He was endorsed by StreetsPAC today, which he announced via twitter.

Ardila, when questioned about the violations, told the Queens Post “I don’t have a car.” In a short unannounced phone interview, he refused to say who the vehicle belonged to, nor did he address the violations. He said he had to get off the phone but would call back in 5 minutes.

He didn’t call back, and after the Queens Post reached out again, he sent a text asking for the questions to be e-mailed. The questions were e-mailed but there has been no response.

The DMV did not provide the name of the registered owner of the vehicle. Tim O’Brien, a spokesperson for the state DMV, said the agency typically does not share private registration information citing the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).

Violations against the Audi since 2019 (source: https://www.howsmydrivingny.nyc)

The Audi has been hit with 41 violations since 2017, although the limited public records available show that the vehicle was sold to an unnamed party in Queens in 2018. Since then, the vehicle appears to have remained in the name of one owner and has generated 29 violations.

Multiple people have said that they have seen Ardila driving the vehicle in recent years. In fact, video was taken of him in the car prior to a candidate forum held at the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church on Thursday June 9.

“I heard that he had a lot of traffic violations, so when I saw him in the car I took photos,” said Stefan Smetko, who was at the forum working on behalf of Brent O’Leary who is also vying for the Assembly seat.

Smetko also captured video of Ardila getting out of the vehicle.

Ardila was also captured on tape on May 11, 2021, getting into the Audi when it was illegally parked in a crosswalk in Middle Village. The footage was taken on Caldwell Avenue by Dan Kurzyna, who worked on Councilmember Bob Holden’s 2021 re-election campaign, when the councilmember defeated Ardila.

Kurzyna and Kevin Ryan, who also worked on Holden campaign, both say they often see Ardila in the vehicle. They said that these sightings are what led them to get the video.

 

Ardila getting into the illegally parked Audi on Caldwell Avenue in Middle Village on May 25, 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dan Kurzyna)

Councilmember Holden, in an interview Wednesday, said that he sees Ardila driving the vehicle all the time. The councilmember, who lives on Caldwell Avenue, says he often sees Ardila in the Audi from the window of his house.

In fact, according to public records, the vehicle has been written up for six violations in the vicinity of Caldwell Avenue and 72nd Street, hit with offenses such as blocking a crosswalk, parking in front of a driveway to obstructing a driveway.

“I’ve seen him a lot,” Holden said. “He has no regard for traffic and parking regulations. He parks it wherever he wants. He parks it in crosswalks, in front of hydrants, people’s driveways—wherever he pleases.”

“If Ardila denies that he drives it, then he is a liar,” Holden added.

Holden called Ardila a hypocrite.

“He wants us out of our cars, yet he drives around in a late model car and parks it anywhere he wants and endangers the public. That should disqualify him from holding any elected office and so should his past racial and ethnic slurs he made on social media.”

Holden was referring to a series of derogatory comments Ardila reportedly made on Facebook from 2009 to 2011 about Asians, gays, women and Jews while he was a teenager. The NYPost reported the story last year.

When the Queens Post asked Ardila, 28, about the Facebook posts during a candidate forum on May 24, he didn’t directly answer the question and instead told the audience that he had been endorsed by several progressive leaders and is running on a campaign of inclusivity.

“I am running on a campaign that focuses on inclusivity, diversity and progressive politics for western and central Queens,” he said. He then went on to say: “I am honored to be supported by city council member Tiffany Cabán. I am honored to be supported by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and I have been endorsed by the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens … all champions of the progressive space and all champions fighting for an inclusive Queens that works for everyone.”

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