By Bill Parry
As expected, lifelong Corona resident Ari Espinal will run as the Democratic Party’s candidate in the April 24 special election to fill former state Assemblyman Francisco Moya’s seat that became vacant after he was elected to the City Council in November.
While the Queens GOP has yet to name a Republican opponent, the Queens Democratic Party, the Working Families Party, and the Women’s Equality Party endorsed Espinal, who has served as a district leader for four years.
“She is a dedicated community leader and activist who has worked throughout her career to serve others,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, said. “Ari will be a fierce advocate for Queens families and I look forward to working with her.”
Espinal most recently served for seven years on Moya’s staff while he was in the Assembly. Her campaign was bolstered by Moya’s strong endorsement last month.
“I have lived in Central Queens my entire life and I am ready to deliver for our community,” Espinal said. “Our local and state leaders are our first line of defense against the bigotry and hate coming out of Washington, and I will protect our progressive values and support plans and initiatives that are good for all New Yorkers.”
The Working Families Party also endorsed Jackson Heights resident Jessica Ramos in her primary challenge against state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), a member of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with the Republicans, allowing them to maintain a majority in the Senate.
“The Working Families Party champions working people over the city’s wealthiest — and I’m honored to have their endorsement,” Ramos said. “I’m running for office because we need a progressive Democrat in the state Senate who will support Queens’ working families — not a Trump Democrat who gives power to the Republicans. I’m fighting for a real living wage, affordable healthcare, rent laws that support families not landlords, and a subway system that actually works. We’ve had a Republican state Senate for far too long — and working families suffer the brunt of the GOP’s backward priorities. I’m proud to join with the Working Families Party as we make clear we will not stop until the state Senate turns blue.”
President Stuart Applebaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union announced the union’s endorsement of Peralta in his bid for another term, saying “he has championed key legislation that impacts not just RWDSU members, but all workers in New York state.” He then criticized Ramos, and other candidates who are challenging IDC members in the primaries. Applebaum supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to reunite Senate Democrats and part of the proposal provides that members of both conferences would not challenge incumbent state senators.
“Several good people are nonetheless running primaries,” he said. “However, we believe it is a sign of bad faith for them to be challenging the incumbents at this point. Instead, they should be supporting the unity plan, as we do.”
When she was weighing her challenge against Peralta in December, Ramos — the former City Hall adviser and district leader — addressed that issue.
“The problem with the IDC is even if they come back, you don’t know if they’ll stay — we’ve seen this play out before in 2014,” she said.
Peralta was thrilled to receive the RWSDU endorsement, calling the union the backbone of our economy.
“My progressive ideals will always go hand-in-hand with working families and my legislative record speaks for itself, from pushing to pass the Paid Family Leave program to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Peralta said. ““I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with RWDSU to push for a progressive agenda that reinvests in our workers and improves the lives of working families in my district and across this great state.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr