Jan. 4, 2022 By Christian Murray
Huge Ma, who founded the TurboVax website last year that helped connect New Yorkers to COVID-19 vaccine sites, announced last month that he is running for Assembly.
Ma, 32, a Democrat who was raised in Astoria, is running for the Assembly District 37 seat, which has been occupied by Catherine Nolan (D) for 30 years. The district covers the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Long Island City, Ridgewood, Maspeth and parts of Astoria.
We talk to Ma in a podcast about why he is running for office.
One of his main goals, he said, is to make government more efficient.
“When I think about the big pressing issues in our society…I do not believe that government is meeting our needs,” Ma said. “I plan to go to Albany to approach these issues with creativity and urgency.”
For instance, Ma put together the TurboVax website after discovering that the city and state web portals were unwieldy and inefficient—making it difficult for residents to set up vaccination appointments.
His website helped thousands of New Yorkers schedule appointments and he became a local hero—helping him build a large Twitter following. He put together the site while working as a software engineer at Airbnb.
Ma will run in the Democratic primary. It is unclear whether Nolan, who has had health issues of late, will seek re-election. She has not stated her intentions.
Mary Jobaida, who unsuccessfully ran against Nolan in the 2020 Democratic primary, said that she plans to run again. Former Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has also not ruled out making a run for the seat.
Ma didn’t comment on his rivals. “Right now, I am squarely focused on the issues. And I am committed to approaching the biggest issues of our time, which I believe are climate, housing and transportation.”
“I believe that we should be committed to a fossil fuel free future,” Ma said. “We need to do everything we can to bring more renewable energy online.”
He is also an advocate for improving the public transit system as well as promoting more sustainable forms of transportation. He said that large investments need to be made in the transit system—especially in transit deserts such as in Ridgewood and parts of Astoria.
Ma said that he would not be calling for changes in terms of bail reform. He also said he has yet to form a policy when it comes to charter schools or gifted & talented programs.
He is not a member of any local civic organizations nor a member of a community board. However, he said, he is involved with Transportation Alternatives and the safe streets community in Queens. He has also been participating in Queens Tech Night, which is in Long Island City.
Ma said he grew up as a problem solver—an only child to parents who both immigrated from Hong Kong.
His father, who owned a small business, died while he was in high school. His mother has worked as a nurse.
“When my dad passed away…I just became a fixer. It was with that mentality that I approached the problem of vaccine distribution.”
Ma said that he would take that “creativity and urgency” to Albany if elected.