Ceasar Zuniga opens campaign office in heart of Sunset Park

August 8, 2014 Heather Chin
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Ceasar Zuniga is hoping that the opening of his new office at 462 36th Street is just the beginning of a successful term as New York State Assemblymember of the 51st District, which represents Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights and part of Gowanus.

The sitting board member and former officer at Community Board 7 announced in April his candidacy for the seat, taking on 20-year-incumbent Assemblymember Felix Ortiz in the upcoming Democratic primary race, to be held on September 9.

“Since I joined [CB 7] in 2009, I have had the privilege of working with community members and different organizations” on important community issues, explained Zuniga, 41. “I realized early on there was so much more we could do.”

With a few short weeks left before voting day, Zuniga and his team of community volunteers have been going door-to-door to meet residents and hear what concerns are foremost on their minds.

“Going door-to-door has validated my desire to run, has energized and motivated me to keep going,” he said. “People agree with me about the need for early childhood education, but after listening to them, I see that people really want to see the waterfront redeveloped, which requires infrastructure for roads and bulkheads. This equals job creation and economic opportunities.

“People are also concerned about affordable housing—an issue that cuts across economic backgrounds,” Zuniga added. “In Red Hook, residents say the NYC Housing Authority has public safety issues and has not fulfilled their maintenance role, like with painting or leak repairs.”

“He loves to talk to voters and gets angry—and motivated—when things need to be fixed,” said campaign director Brian Young.

Volunteer Miguel Antonio agreed, explaining that he “believe[s] in Ceasar because he’s been involved in the community and is a family person. As a person who lives in Sunset Park, he knows what it takes to build community, and although [Ortiz] is known in Albany, I feel he hasn’t really reached out to residents. People have really felt left out.”

Antonio, who has two young children and has lived in Sunset Park off and on since 1986, added that Zuniga’s emphasis on waterfront job creation, as well as his experience in early childhood education as director of research and evaluation for the Parent-Child Home Program and a former Board of Education member in Passaic, New Jersey, caught his attention.

“Bay Ridge and Sunset Park has a lot in common because we all have families and a vested interested in making sure they thrive,” said Antonio. “I have seen NYC politics evolve and [electing a new assemblymember] is the next step, a fresh start. And we will hold him accountable because we want him to take our concerns to Albany.”

Zuniga has thus far been endorsed by several local democratic groups and clubs, “all of whom reflect our values of accessibility, transparency and social justice,” he said.

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