Second Jackson Heights resident announces challenge to state Senator Jose Peralta

Andrea Marra
Photo courtesy of Andrea Marra

Andrea Marra, a Jackson Heights resident and LGBTQ activist, officially announced her run against incumbent state Senator Jose Peralta on Feb. 6.

If Marra wins, she would become the first Asian-American elected to the state Senate and first transgender elected official to serve in the state Legislature. She is running to represent Senate District 13, which encompasses Jackson Heights, Corona, ElmhurstEast Elmhurst and Woodside.

Marra has lived in Jackson Heights since 2009 and has worked for organizations such as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), served as a co-director of a Korean community organization, worked for the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and currently works in communications for the Arcus Foundation, a foundation focused on LGBT rights, social justice issues and conservation.

She referred to Peralta as a turncoat Democrat and is arguing that the district needs a representative to protect residents against the “threats from Washington.”

“New York state must serve as a defense against the real and dangerous threats coming out of Washington, but turncoat Democrats like José Peralta are empowering the party of Donald Trump,” she said in a statement. “We need new, honest leadership to protect and expand affordable housing; modernize the broken MTA; deliver the funding our schools need and deserve; and invest in New York’s overburdened public hospitals, including Elmhurst Hospital.”

Last year, Peralta joined the Independent Democratic Conference. Peralta is the eighth member of the IDC, which was formed in 2010 and is led by Bronx state Senator Jeffrey Klein. The conference has formed a coalition with Senate Republicans, who control 31 of the 63 state Senate seats.

Jessica Ramos, another candidate for the seat, announced her run on the one-year anniversary of Peralta’s defection and is also arguing that the incumbent is conceding control of the state Senate by joining the group.

Marra’s campaign has raised $47,630 in one month from 210 individual contributors. Peralta has raised $79,460 while Ramos raised $28,207.24, according to New York Board of Elections filings.

“At a time when New York is grappling to maintain its quality of life, Peralta has chosen to align himself with the Republican agenda at the expense of the people he was elected to serve,” Mara said. “I am running to break this stranglehold in Albany and directly tackle the issues that matter most to the working and middle class.”

In addition to her job at the Arcus Foundation, Marra serves on the board of Freedom for All Americans, a campaign to “secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide” and Just Detention International, an organization aiming to end sexual abuse in prison.

She moved to Queens in 2009 and was adopted as an infant from South Korea. She grew up in Albany and attended Pace University, graduating in 2008. Marra was chosen as a The White House’s Next Generation of LGBT Leaders and selected for The Advocate’s Forty Under 40 list in 2012.

“The authenticity and experiences of the people who reside in our community are daily reminders of why I call Queens home,” Marra said. “In this dangerous Trump era, Queens needs a driven and experienced state senator who will work alongside the community to improve our quality of life and ensure New York truly becomes a progressive and Democratic state.”

The New York State Primary will take place on Sept. 11, though some elected officials like Queens Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato are trying to change the date since it falls on Rosh Hashanah and the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.