State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) died Wednesday, Nov. 21 on Thanksgiving eve.
Peralta, 47, was pronounced at 8 p.m. at Elmhurst Hospital Center with his family at his side. Initially, it was reported that he suffered a fatal heart attack, but according to media outlets his wife, Evelyn, stated he died from septic shock, an unusual condition where the immune system overreacts to an infection and releases chemicals into the blood that causes widespread inflammation.
José Rafael Peralta was born on Nov. 10, 1971, in New York City, to parents who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic.
He began his political career as a Queens community liaison to the State Assembly and went on to win a seat in the Assembly, where he served from 2002-2010.
Peralta was then elected to the state Senate in a special election in 2010, becoming the first Dominican-American in the chamber.
However, the lawmaker recently lost in the Democratic Primary and general election to Democrat Jessica Ramos, who came out of Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s administration.
Peralta drew sharp opposition for joining the Independent Democratic Conference, (IDC) the controversial breakaway group that formed a coalition with the then ruling Republicans. The IDC disbanded several months before the election, but progressive and mainstream Democrats branded all the IDC members as ideological turncoats in what was a bitter election.
Peralta was a longtime proponent of the state DREAM Act, a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for state-funded financial aid for college. The measure, long stalled in the state Senate, now has a good chance at passing now that Democrats have won control of upper legislative branch.
Peralta was also known to be very attentive to constituent services.
Peralta is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and their two sons, 13-year-old Myles and a 21-year-old Matthew.