JFK Democratic Club
The John F. Kennedy Democratic Club is a political club dedicated to electing Democrats in New York City to public office and is the official Democratic club for the 34th Assembly District, Part A. The 34th Assembly District covers the Jackson Heights and Woodside neighborhoods.
The Club was originally known as the Al Smith Democratic Club and was formed in Jackson Heights sometime in the 1950s. After President Kennedy was assassinated, the Club changed its name in 1964 to the John F. Kennedy Democratic Club. It was known for many years as a reform Club in the area.
The first elected public official from the Kennedy Club was former Council Member Edward L. Sadowsky, who served from the 1960s to 1985. In the 1970s, the Club grew significantly during the various electoral campaigns of Ivan C. Lafayette.
Ivan won the 1976 election for the 34th Assembly District seat and served the district from 1977 to 2008. He was named as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly in the later years of his tenure.
In 1991, Club member and District Leader John D. Sabini was elected as Council Member for the newly drawn 25th Council District. He served in the Council from 1992 to 2001 and was elected to the New York State Senate in 2002, where he served from 2003 to 2008.
Long-time District Leader Helen Sears was elected from the Club to the City Council to succeed the term-limited John Sabini in Nov. 2001. She served from 2002 to 2009.
Other past District Leaders from the JFK Club include Rudy Greco, Matthew DiStefano, and Jorge Fanjul.
Past State Committee Members from the Club include Helen Sears, Maureen Allen, J. Robert Pigott, Matthew DiStefano, and Stuart Sears.
The club's present District Leaders are the Hons. Maureen Allen and Alfonso Quiroz. The Hon. Michael G. DenDekker is the present Assembly Member for the 34th AD. Matthew E. DiStefano is Club President.
The Club presently meets from September to June (except for January) on the 4th Wednesday of the month (with the exception of November when the meeting date is the 3rd Wednesday). Meetings are held at the Community United Methodist Church, 81-10 35th Avenue, Jackson Heights, N.Y. The Club usually holds its annual dinner dance in June. (See graphic for typical invitation.)
The Club creates a lively environment where the community hears from local candidates, voices opinions, votes on endorsements and works on political campaigns. The JFK Club sustains itself from membership dues and the annual dinner dance.