Influential immigrant rights group endorses insurgent progressive challenger against DenDekker

Photo: Max Parrott/QNS

The political arm of an influential immigrant rights organization has endorsed a challenger to Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, the six-term incumbent representing AD 34, which includes Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and parts of Woodside and Corona.

Make the Road Action (MRA), a leading progressive community organization announced it would back Jessica González-Rojas. A nationally-recognized expert on health care reform, gender and racial justice who was formerly the Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

MRA members expressed support for González-Rojas because of her commitment to their top state priorities, including keeping ICE agents out of courts, raising taxes on the super-wealth, passing true fair elections legislation, enacting the New York Homes Guarantee, addressing racial disparities in school discipline, decriminalizing sex work, and expanding voter protections.

“I am humbled and excited to receive Make the Road Action’s endorsement for our campaign. They are a powerful, grassroots force fighting for Latinx, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities,” González-Rojas said. “As an advocate and daughter of an immigrant, I have been fortunate enough to work alongside Make the Road Action to move important policy forward. I proudly stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their members during key moments in the struggle to build power for all working people. I am honored that they have chosen to put their trust and faith in our campaign to build a better future.”

DenDekker, who was born and raised in Jackson Height and resides there with his wife and four children, has not faced a primary or general election opponent since he was first sent to Albany in 2008.

“I acknowledge Make the Road Action’s advocacy efforts and their work to help immigrant communities and people of color, but I am proud of my record of standing up for immigrants and fighting for their rights,” DenDekker said. “I am proud of being one of the original co-sponsors of the New York DREAM Act and the Green Light Law this past year. I am also proud of my work to combat alcohol and substance abuse and addiction, enacting marriage equality, and reforming the criminal justice system. I know we still have a lot of work to do, and I will continue to work hard to protect the rights of my neighbors.”

DenDekker’s district has the largest Latinx population in Queens, and it is among the most Latinx district in all of New York, and the largest to never have been represented by a Latinx Assemblymember, according to MRA.

“Jessica is the representative our community deserves and needs,” MRA member and AD 34 resident Aracelly Cantos said. “She has fought for our community at the local and national level, and we know she will fight for us in the Assembly, especially when it comes to defending the rights and needs of immigrants and workers and tenants of color. I can’t wait to knock on doors to make sure she’s our next Assemblymember.”

Former Manhattan prosecutor Nuala O’Doherty Naranjo, a Jackson Heights civic leader is also challenging DenDekker in next year’s Democratic primary.

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