State Sen. José Peralta officially joined the 2013 race for Queens Borough President when he kicked off his campaign on Monday in Jackson Heights, making him the first Latino to run for the position, Javier Castaño of Queens Latino reported. The article was edited and translated from Spanish.
State Sen. José Peralta became the first Latino to run for Queens Borough President this week.
“I’m the first and I’m going to win,” Peralta said at the entrance to Novo restaurant on 37th Avenue, where he officially kicked off his campaign in an event that also raised funds for his race. There was laughter, applause, hugs and checks.
“My parents made me who I am; all my success is because of them,” Peralta, who was born in Upper Manhattan to Dominican parents and studied at Queens College, added.
“I’ve worked hard and played by the rules, in addition to having relied on some luck. The time has come to work for the future of Queens, against sex abuse crimes, foreclosures, and in favor of workers’ rights, gay marriage, improving schools, and immigrants.”
The guest list at the launch event was long and diverse: Rep. Joseph Crowley, chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party; mayoral candidate Bill Thompson; his assistant Eduardo Castell; State Senators Michael Gianaris, Toby Stavisky and Malcolm Smith; Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry; Councilman Daniel Dromm; Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz; District Leader Barbara Jackson and former Councilman Eric Goia. The current Queens Borough President, Helen Marshall, arrived early and left very quickly.
The other two Latino elected officials in Queens, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and Assemblyman Francisco Moya, were also present.
Crowley was careful not to endorse Peralta because there are a handful of candidates who are running for Queens Borough President and the elections are a full year away. Crowley has time to think. Peralta’s rivals include Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, and perhaps State Sen. Tony Avella.
Crowley limited himself to stating: “Peralta has done good things for Queens as a state senator. I wish him the best and I thank all of you for supporting the Democratic Party.” He made some jokes, embraced his long-time friend Ferreras, and exchanged secrets with Moya.
Other Latino attendees included former District Leader Aída González; Lucy García, founder and director of the Elmhurst-Jackson Heights Senior Center; the poet Juan Tineo; trade unionist and journalist Roberto Pérez; the model Dazz and her husband Yonel Letellier; the couple Patricia Mahecha and Eduardo Giraldo, former presidents of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens; and businessman Rubén Peña.
Peralta talked about his family and said he believes in dignity and common sense. “I will support responsible and rational economic projects. I insist on this strategy,” he repeated various times. Perhaps he was referring to the corporate projects of the Mets, the MLS soccer stadium, and the expansion of the USTA Tennis Center, all located in the vicinity of Flushing Meadows Park and which will primarily affect Latino immigrants.
Peralta has passed laws to eliminate the distribution of “Chica-Chica” cards along Roosevelt Avenue [they look like baseball cards but are really business cards for pimps and prostitutes] though they have reappeared in recent months with greater force.
“We must once again be able to walk along Roosevelt Avenue after 8 p.m. without fear,” said Sen. Peralta.
The candidate said he will work to build alliances with all political and social groups. “We’ll leave our disagreements behind and working together, we will build a better future,” he said. “Queens is a sleeping giant. We are a microcosm of America and the moment has come for us to show that Queens can be on the cutting edge.”
Towards the back of Novo restaurant sat Nora Salazar, 84. “I support Sen. Peralta because he’s from the community and he keeps the senior center open,” she said. Salazar walks with a cane and has been going to the Elmhurst-Jackson Heights Senior Center for 22 years.
“I’ve always supported José with money and also personally,” said Nelson Maloney, while trying the appetizers.
“As Queens Borough President, Sen. Peralta will be much more effective for the Latino community because he knows that we are the most in need,” said Agustín Rojas, at the end of the event. “I’m a community activist and I believe that as Queens Borough President, Peralta can end the congestion on the Van Wyck Expressway, overcrowding in schools, in addition to the foreclosures that are destroying Latino homes.”