By Mark Hallum
After clearing a path for herself to serve the Assembly district covering Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, attorney Catalina Cruz continues accumulating support from city and state politicians in Queens.
State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) endorsed Cruz Monday morning, joining many other organizations and elected officials who have backed her.
“It’s important for our community-driven campaign to continue to strengthen our coalition as we gear up for the general election,” Cruz said. “Together, I know we will fight for social and economic justice, and to ensure New York’s most vulnerable communities are protected and have ladders of opportunity to succeed. I’m proud to have them as allies and I look forward to working with them in Albany to deliver the progressive change our communities need and deserve.”
Originally from Colombia, Cruz is the first Dreamer to run for office in New York and defeated two other Democrats in the Sept. 13 primary, scoring another jab to the already waning influence of the Queens County Democratic Party by pulling ahead of state Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights).
Cruz and Reform Party candidate Bobby Kalotee will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.
Cruz came to the United States when she was 9 years old and settled in Queens.
Espinal was elected in an April special election as the only Democratic nominee after her predecessor, City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), vacated the seat. However, Cruz proved to be the people’s choice.
“I have worked with Catalina for a long time, and know her to be a fierce advocate for women’s rights, students, immigrants and tenants,” Simotas said. “She is a very accomplished attorney, a long-time fighter for Queens, and I am proud that she will be joining me in Albany. I am certain that Catalina’s strong voice and intimate experiences as a Dreamer will resonate with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle so that we can finally see the DREAM ACT realized in New York state.”
Cruz is part of larger movement to elect Latinas across the borough, an effort projected by the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Queens Democratic Party boss, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, in the June 26 congressional primary, which shook the political world.
Ocasio-Cortez and Cruz have gained national attention alongside Jessica Ramos, a former staffer for Mayor Bill de Blasio who unseated State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), a former Independent Democratic Conference official, in the Sept. 13 primary.
“Catalina Cruz is a dynamic, experienced leader who will make her mark on Albany and I am proud to endorse her,” Gianaris said. “I look forward to working with her to fix the MTA, deliver more affordable housing, and finally pass the DREAM Act.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall