June 29, 2022 By Czarinna Andres
Steven Raga, a Woodside resident and former chief of staff to the incumbent Brian Barnwell, has won the Assembly District 30 seat—making him the first Filipino American to hold elected office in New York State.
Raga, who generated 71 percent of the vote, beat Ramón Cando in what was a two-person race.
The Woodsider entered the race in April when Barnwell announced that he was no longer seeking reelection. Raga was selected by a committee formed to determine Barnwell’s replacement on the ticket.
“I am so excited and pumped up to announce my candidacy,” Raga said when he launched his campaign in April. “Like so many immigrant families from so many cultures, my family came here in the 60s and took root. It is time that we take our voice to the Assembly and that we are represented by someone who understands the spirit and the needs of this amazing community.”
He was endorsed by Congressmembers Gregory Meeks and Grace Meng; State Senator John Liu; Assemblymembers Catalina Cruz, Ron Kim, Andrew Hevesi and Khaleel Anderson; Borough President Donovan Richards, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan and District Leader Melissa Sklarz.
Meng, a big supporter of Raga, took to twitter after the results came in and posted a photo with Raga and community-leader Andy Chen: “We did it! We helped elect the first Filipino American ever in the state of NY!!!”
We did it! We helped elect the first Filipino American ever in the state of NY!!! @RagaForQueens #history!!!! pic.twitter.com/aaJDyAB2OS
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) June 29, 2022
The district is one of the most diverse in the state and is majority Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). It underwent change with redistricting and primarily cover the neighborhoods of Woodside and Elmhurst, along with parts of Maspeth.
Raga, who stepped down as the executive director of Woodside on the Move in May, has a long track record in government and the non-profit sector.
Prior to leading Woodside on the Move, he was the Northeast Regional Manager for Policy and Advocacy for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and was the chief of staff for Barnwell for four years. He is also on the board of several Filipino organizations and on Queens Community Board 2.
Raga thanked all of his supporters in a social media post this morning. “It is an honor of a lifetime to be able to advocate for my community here in #AD30.”
“I am proud to be elected as the first-ever Filipino American Democratic nominee for the New York State Assembly” Raga said.
Cando ran a campaign to the right of Raga.
He said that he would address bail reform, increase criminal and civil penalties for gun traffickers, increase mental health services and increase funding for the police.
His law-and-order platform led to him being endorsed by Council Member Robert Holden and Rep. Tom Suozzi, who came in third in the Democratic primary for governor.
Raga will face a Republican challenger in November but is all but certain to win.