With most City Council seats up for grabs in next year’s election, David Aronov, 24, is seeking to make history in the district covering Rego Park, Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens. “Our community is the greatest at spreading the word. I will put up posters and flyers, and social media proves that you do not need a lot of money to run,” Aronov said.
For the past seven years, Aronov became familiar with the district as a staffer for outgoing Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, starting as an intern and then becoming a constituent liaison, a position that involved casework relating to city agencies, and attending public forums on matters such as rezoning, bike lanes, and participatory budgeting. “Others ran for their reasons, but I work in government and I’ve been serving the community. I attend Community Board meetings and Precinct Community Council meetings. I know the stakeholders,” he said.
Aronov’s parents emigrated from Tashkent and settled in Briarwood. Initially, he aimed towards a medical career and attended the Gateway to Health Sciences High School. As student body president, he protested the high cost of graduation materials and the lack of transparency. “The cap and gown is $25 but tassels alone are $20. That doesn’t make sense!” he said at the time.
Through the Bukharian Teen Lounge, he was encouraged to take an internship with Koslowitz, where he played the vital role as a Russian-speaking staffer who explained city services and assisted seniors in the Bukharian Jewish community with applications. It was in this role that he was inspired to make a career change towards public policy and political involvement.
He met with young professionals in the community, and the networking resulted in the Bukharian Jewish Union, which engages in empowerment and public education campaigns such as voter registration drives, volunteering in food pantries, and mask distribution. At Hunter College and New York University, he fought against tuition hikes, and confronted anti-Israel protests on campus and in student government.
His most recent public role offers many similarities to running for public office. “The census count is in its final stretch, and there’s a simple message here. Meet people where they are. Talk to them one on one,” he said. With each conversation, he explained the importance of census participation and how it impacts New York’s share of the federal budget and congressional representation.
Now he is working on convincing his community to register as Democratic Party voters so that they can give him their vote next summer and make history by electing the first Bukharian Jewish lawmaker in New York. Although he does not share her leftist views, Aronov said that the election of AOC demonstrated that one does not need to lead in endorsements or fundraising to win a race. “She activated a community and that community voted. With flyers, conversations, and the support of rabbis, the community will then vote.”
The power of the word and social media is vital in a time when public events and appearances are limited by coronavirus prevention measures. Having volunteered in distributing food and masks, he knows the hardships of his neighbors because his family has the same experience.
“The past few months have been some of the hardest times of our lives. I lost my grandpa, was sick with COVID-19, and had moments where I genuinely felt I wasn’t going to make it. Through grit and perseverance, I was able to finish graduate school while working to make sure our communities in Queens are counted in the Census,” he said. “Let’s build a new generation of leadership and make history together.”
By Sergey Kadinsky