BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Queens Democrats blasted state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) and said that he is empowering Republicans in the legislative body following his decision to become the eighth member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). The conference is composed of senators who often vote alongside Republican colleagues, breaking away from Democratic party lines.
Peralta’s announcement came as a shock not only to Democratic elected officials, but also to his Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona constituents who voted for him overwhelmingly in November due to his progressive platform.
“Senator Peralta’s constituents elected him to support our Democratic principles in Albany, and his decision to undermine our party and empower the Republican caucus betrays that trust,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights). “As Democrats we’re deeply disappointed because the people of western Queens deserve better.”
Peralta held a town hall meeting last Friday to hear his constituents’ concerns and explain why he chose to join the IDC. The Jewish Center of Jackson Heights was crowded with a mixture of supportive and angered constituents.
“I decided to hold a town hall meeting because I wanted to explain my decision to join the Independent Democratic Conference to the people in my district,” Peralta said. “I wanted to let my constituents know about the failures of the minority Democratic Conference, a conference I left because I disagree with their objectives of badmouthing and cannibalizing other Democrats that did not agree with them. I stand by my decision more than ever. The minority Democratic Conference does not have a legislative plan, does not have a plan to regain the majority. On the contrary, the IDC has a vision, a plan that includes …providing farmworkers with labor protection, on fighting the homelessness crisis in the city. We are on the frontlines of Trumpism, protecting our immigrants, our immigrant communities.”
Passionate to regain a Democratic senator, Will Sweeney, a community activist and filmmaker from Jackson Heights, filed a petition on Saturday demanding that Peralta either return to the Democratic Party or resign as state senator. However, according to Peralta’s office, the petition does not accurately represent his constituency and instead has signatures from people outside the Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Corona communities.
Not only are community members taking a stand against Peralta’s sudden party switch, but elected officials such as Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who represents the same communities as Peralta, said that it was a bad political move for Peralta to make.
“It is not right that we have Democratic elected officials who are conferencing with the Republicans,” Dromm said. “The IDC is conferencing with the Republicans, and these are Republicans who have blocked an awful lot of legislation from the state Senate in the past and continue to do so now.”
In November, the Queens Tribune interviewed Peralta, who spoke of how it felt to have been re-elected during a Donald Trump presidency.
“It’s extremely important to be a Democrat now more than ever,” Peralta had said.
The senator had said he would be troubled if the Republican Party became the majority and that Democrats should fight if that were the case.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or email@example.com