Queens voters reflect on Trump, first president from borough

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1/19/2017

By Ivan Pereira

The first ever commander-in-chief from Queens will take office Friday.

But in Donald Trump’s native borough, voters from both sides of the political spectrum said they are skeptical that he will remember his roots while he’s in the Oval Office.

“Him being from Queens is one thing. Him being from the same walk of life [as us], that’s another story,” said Robert McCarthy, 53, a Trump voter from Broad Channel, one of the few Queens neighborhoods the president-elect won in November.

“I don’t think he even knows what Broad Channel is.”

Overall, Trump received 21.6 percent of the borough’s vote, compared with 17.9 percent of votes citywide, according to the city’s Board of Elections.

In Jackson Heights, the Queens neighborhood where Trump had the fewest number of votes, many residents agreed.

“I think him losing [the neighborhood] affects his ego a bit, but it won’t matter. He’s not thinking about our needs,” said Donna Edwards, 35, a physician who voted for Hillary Clinton.

In fact, borough residents said they never really felt that Trump was proud to be from Queens.

Born in Jamaica Estates in 1946, he attended the private Kew Forest School before transferring to an upstate military school for most of his teenage years. Shortly after graduating from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump made enough money working in his dad’s real estate business to move to a luxury apartment in Manhattan, which he relished, according to his book “The Art of the Deal.”

“I was a kid from Queens who worked in Brooklyn, and suddenly I had an apartment on the Upper East Side. I became a city guy instead of a kid from the boroughs,” he wrote.

Representatives for the president-elect didn’t return several calls requesting comment.

In the coastal Queens neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways, where Trump had the strongest showing with 18,768 votes, residents said Trump’s apparent lack of love of his home borough didn’t affect their decision at the polls.

They expressed a sense of being neglected by elected officials when it came to quality-of-life issues such as better public transit, Superstorm Sandy-related home repairs, or even snow removal. Trump, in their view, had an outsider perspective and had just as much disdain for the political machine as they did.

“He’s always touring the country and listening to the working class, so I hope he does what he can to help,” said Lorraine MacCloud, a Broad Channel resident of 41 years who voted for him.

Still, some Trump voters admitted it wasn’t a slam dunk decision to choose Trump over Clinton.

“I wish we had someone else to choose from,” McCarthy said.

Voters in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, where Trump only had 5,071 votes, a fifth of Clinton’s total in the district, said they could see major distinctions between the two candidates, especially when it came to immigration. Nearly 63 percent of the area’s population was born outside of the United States, according to the latest census data, and voters there said they couldn’t take any threat of deportation or racial bias lightly.

“We won’t know what is going to happen until he actually gets into office,” said David Rafanan, 22, a Clinton voter whose family moved from the Philippines to East Elmhurst. “I honestly don’t think he cares about the future of the community.”

Salauddin Chowdhary, 49, a Bangladeshi immigrant who moved to Jackson Heights 12 years ago and voted for Clinton, noted the immigrant community is more concerned about Trump’s intentions abroad. Family and friends could also suffer under Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy and tough stance on Islam, he said.

“The world is a big place and I don’t know if he understands all of our needs and the [intricacies] of dealing with other countries,” said Chowdhary, who runs a moving company.

Moving forward, the Queens voters on both sides said they plan on making their voices heard and keeping the new president in check by reminding him that he was one of them.

“We’ve got to give him a chance, because he’s not going anywhere,” said Edward Frank, 47, a MTA bus driver from Howard Beach who voted for Clinton. “It’s up to him to do the right thing and listen to all of us.”

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 at 2:32 pm and is filed under amNewYork, Feature, Politics, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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