Frei-Pearson will run, along with rival Aravella Simotas, on the Democratic Party line. The primaries will be held on September 14.
Simotas has received broad-based support, including early endorsements from Gianaris, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and two powerful Democratic clubs.
This makes Frei-Pearson the dark horse before even officially declaring his candidacy, which will happen some time in April, he said in an interview.
But as Albany becomes an evermore prominent poster child for government malfunction, being an outsider might actually help, rather than hurt Frei-Pearson’s run.
“Most people are good, decent and honest, and we deserve a government that’s good, decent and honest,” said Frei-Pearson who argues that Albany has built a legacy of mismanagement over the past 30 years.
Frei-Pearson is a public interest lawyer for Children's Rights, a national advocacy group that represents foster children in class action lawsuits to reform failed foster care systems.
Prior to his work with Children's Rights, Frei-Pearson worked as an associate at a big New York law firm, Kaye Scholer LLP. “The salary was incredible, but I wasn’t really making a difference in people’s lives,” said Frei-Pearson.
Compared to Simotas, who is a lifelong Astoria resident, Frei-Pearson’s roots don’t run deep in the community. But he has been a vocal advocate on several key issues since he settled in Astoria in 2003. Now Frei-Pearson and his wife, Karla Mosley, the Emmy-nominated actress, call Astoria home.
Frei-Pearson discussed some of the things he plans to fight for in Albany: job creation, marriage equality for the LGBT community, cleaner air for Western Queens, modernization of the utilities power grid, and measures to address what he refers to as the Queens “healthcare crisis.”
Brian Beard, president of the Long Island City Alliance, who met Frei-Pearson at an anti-hate crime rally in Astoria in 2008, said, “he’s progressive in his politics and he has good ideas. Hopefully if he wins the election he can use those ideas in Albany.”
Alyssa Bonilla has worked closely with Frei-Pearson over a period of years. Both are members of Western Queens Power for the People, a group that sued Con Edison and won a settlement after the 2006 blackout that darkened parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside.
Bonilla believes that, considering the current climate in Albany, making the decision to run could not have been easy. “Politics is hard when you want to do it and maintain your values at the same time,” she said. “For him to make the decision to go in there, for the sake of the community, with your eyes wide open, I think it’s a generous act.”
Beard said he believes Frei-Pearson has “high morals” and will not be swayed by lobbyist if he wins the election. “I don’t think he will take money from lobbyist, that’s the problem with politicians today - lobbyists run Albany and Washington,” he said.
But does he really have a chance of winning the seat?
Beard thinks so. “I think he has a chance, he’s just got to stay on top of things and become more well known, there are still a lot of people in Astoria who don’t know who he is.”
Frei-Pearson is planning to run for a seat in the state Assembly.