Liu Returns to Politics as State Senator-Elect
Former City Comptroller, Councilman, and 2013 mayoral candidate John Liu returned to the public sector yesterday after defeating Republican Vickie Paladino and incumbent Tony Avella, who ran as an independent after losing to Liu in the Democratic primary in the State Senate’s 11th District race.
According to the unofficial State Board of Election results, Liu garnered 51.7% or 39,571 votes to Paladino’s 23.4% or 17,950 votes. Avella finished with 20% or 14,671 votes.
As a candidate, Liu managed to secure the Democratic nomination from Avella over the latter’s membership in the now-disbanded Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) — a group of Democrats in the State Senate who caucused with Republicans so that the latter could consolidate control.
In his victory speech at Monahan and Fitzgerald’s, a Bayside watering hole, Liu emphasized his intention to help pass more legislation now that Democrats have taken control of the Senate.
“We want to pass the reproductive health act!” Liu told reporters. “There is so much legislation that is bottled up in the New York state senate. We’re going to work hard to pass that come January.”
Still, when Queens County Politics asked Liu about his victory, he showed humility. “I’m grateful and humbled by the confidence the voters have placed in me and I reiterate my pledge that I’ll work every day to represent the public interest,” he said. “I thank my rivals in this sometimes contentious election and hope to work with them all going forward, for the greater interest.”
The senate district includes College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park and Briarwood.
Cruz Becomes New York’s First DREAMer Elected
Immigrant, worker, and tenant attorney Catalina Cruz cruised to victory yesterday in a three-way race against incumbent Ari Espinal and Reform Party nominee Bobby Kalotee to become the next representative of Queens’ 39th Assembly District.
According to the State Board of Elections unofficial tally, Cruz garnered 77% of the electorate or 12,820 votes to Espinal’s 9.2% or 1,525 votes. Kalotee received 254 votes.
Cruz’ election makes her the first DREAMer elected to public office in New York State.
Born in Colombia, Cruz’s mother moved her and her siblings to Jackson Heights when she was nine. She remained undocumented for the next ten years, gaining citizenship after she married her high school boyfriend.
She later worked in the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo and former City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
As a candidate, Cruz has made immigrant rights, including for the undocumented, a cornerstone of her campaign. About half of Queens’ population consists of immigrants, and more than a third of the city’s undocumented population resides there. In Elmhurst, part of the 39th Assembly District, nearly two-fifths of the population are immigrants.
“I am honored to be elected as the Assembly Member to represent the people of Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights,” Cruz told Queens County Politics. “Last night, our community came out and chose a new future: where our trains will run on time, our immigrants are protected, and our families are not displaced. I look forward to beginning our work immediately!”
The district includes Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.