Queens Pol Voted Against Speed Cameras — And Has 27 Speeding Tickets!
She’s go, go, gone.
A Queens pol who voted against expanding New York’s speed camera program has been caught on camera more than two dozen times for burning rubber herself.
Council Member Joann Ariola, a Republican who represents parts of southern Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula, has racked up 48 violations on her SUV since 2017, including a whopping 27 for speeding in school zones and two for blowing through red lights, according to a review of the city ticket database on her vanity license plate, GONEGOGO.
A safe streets advocate who asked to remain anonymous spotted Ariola in her car in the City Hall parking lot after an oversight hearing on sinkholes, flooding and heatwaves on Aug. 16. Her office confirmed that the tipster is accurate — it was Ariola and it was her car, though she shares it with her family. (Ariola has a husband, adult sons, and grandkids).
Ariola now joins the Council’s unofficial Speed Demon Caucus, a bipartisan delegation that includes Transportation Committee Chairwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Queens), Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), Francisco Moya (D-Corona), and Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge). Former Council members Paul Vallone (D-Queens); Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), and Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) are also members emeritus.
Ariola told Streetsblog she will learn from her mistakes and hit the brakes.
“Of course it’s never a good thing to speed, but we are all human and we make mistakes,” she said. “That being said, I have paid off all of my tickets, and I am definitely much more conscious of my speed than I have been in the past. It’s something I’ve worked on for sure.” (Streetsblog confirmed that there are no unpaid tickets on her license plate.)
Ariola voted against the Council’s “home rule” message that gave state legislators the go-ahead to pass a bill allowing New York’s speed cameras to operate 24-7-365. She was one of just seven “no” votes on the “home rule” message — after it had been watered down — in addition to Borelli, David Carr (R-Staten Island), Darlene Mealy (D-Brooklyn), Vickie Paladino (R-Queens), Kalman Yeger (R-Brooklyn) and Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn).
Ariola is apparently just one of the many reckless drivers in her district. Since Ariola took office in January, there have been 964 reported crashes in her district — roughly four per day — causing 514 injuries, including to 428 motorists and 67 pedestrians and 19 cyclists, according to city stats.
Ariola claims that her own lead foot had no bearing on her vote to hamper the life-saving program. She maintains that her opposition was, and remains, that the cameras are a punitive measure.
“As for whether or not these prior infractions had any impact on my vote in regards to the cameras — absolutely not,” she said. “I continue to maintain the viewpoint that these cameras add additional financial strain to New Yorkers already struggling under an increasing tax burden, while allowing repeat offenders with fraudulent license plates to skirt punishment entirely.” (Only cars being driven 11 or more miles per hour above the posted speed limit are subject to camera-issued speeding tickets, meaning that a driver can only be nabbed if she is going at least 36 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.)
Just two of Ariola’s infractions have happened during her nine months in office, but it’s “disappointing” anytime an elected official, who is supposed to set an example for their constituents, breaks the law and puts people’s lives at risk, said StreetsPAC’s Eric McClure, whose group endorsed Democrat Felicia Singh in the November general election.
McClure also decried the hypocrisy of the first-term pol calling for heightened security in schools this year after the tragic mass shooting in Uvalde while actively fighting against another safety measure intended to keep kids safe on their way to and from school.
“It does seem counterproductive to push on one hand for heightened school security while fighting against placing speed cameras in school zones,” he said.
Ariola tweeted a picture of herself with her grandkids on the opening day of school on Thursday. It is unclear if she drove.
As kids head back to school its important to think about student safety. Ive held several meetings w DOE on this & Chancellor Banks is taking vital steps to making sure that children are safe when they go to school. Thanks @QNS & @billparry3 for coveringhttps://t.co/wGZyAKNu4M
— NYC Council Member Joann Ariola (@JoannAriola32) September 8, 2022