By Bill Parry
There was a time when City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) was a supporter of state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst).
Constantinides campaigned for Peralta, knocking on doors in the days leading up to the special election in 2010, but that all changed in January 2017 when Peralta defected to the renegade Independent Democratic Conference, which is allied with Senate Republicans to form a majority coalition.
Constantinides endorsed Jessica Ramos in her primary challenge against Peralta Tuesday, becoming the first member of the City Council to endorse an anti-IDC challenger this year. Constantinides also joined Ramos and 75 grassroots supporters Sunday as they opened her official campaign office in Jackson Heights, and Constantinides railed against Peralta.
“We need a real Democrat representing this district,” Constantinides said. “We need someone who rides the trains. We need someone that knows when you cast a vote for a leader, that’s a vote for your values. You can talk and talk about what your values are — but your actions are what count. The senator for this district empowers Republicans. I’m proud to stand with Jessica Ramos and stand on the front lines with her. I know, as someone I’ve worked with, Jessica has the passion, knowledge and love of the community. She’s going to be the state senator we need. We need to knock on doors, make phone calls, and make sure Jessica Ramos is our state senator.”
The Peralta campaign fired back.
“Councilman Constantinides knows very well that Senator Jose Peralta is a clear representation of New York values. His disregard for Senator Peralta’s commitment to the people he serves is a weak attempt to blind voters from the progressive achievements the senator has consistently brought to working people across this city,” Jennifer Blatus, the Peralta spokeswoman for Queens, said.
“As a first-generation Dominican-American and lifelong advocate, Senator Peralta has worked tirelessly for the progressive advancement of immigrants, labor unions and working-class New Yorkers. The senator has been on the front lines for workers to receive a living wage, for women to receive equal pay, improved education for our children, safe living conditions for public housing residents, and college financial aid for undocumented New Yorkers — because everyone deserves a chance at the American dream,” she said.
“As Senator Peralta continues to represent Queens in Albany, and work to pass progressive legislation like the DREAM Act and an on-time budget, Councilman Constantinides should be concerned with the needs of his district and staying relevant to his own constituents.”
Ramos was a strong labor activist who worked with Build Up NYC and served as a Democratic district leader from 2010 to 2014 before working in City Hall as the director of Latino Media. She lives in Jackson Heights with her husband and two young sons, and like Constantinides, was once a Peralta campaign worker.
“As a mother of two, Queens native, and straphanger, I know our community needs better-funded schools, more affordable housing, and a subway system that actually works,” Ramos said. “This district’s current state senator empowers Republicans to block the DREAM Act, the Reproductive Health Act, and more. This campaign is making it clear: we will not stand for Trump Democrats — it’s time to send a real Democrat to Albany.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr