Nov. 7, 2018 By Meghan Sackman
Catalina Cruz, who spent her childhood as an undocumented immigrant, was elected to the State Assembly last night to represent the 39th District.
Cruz, a Jackson Heights resident and attorney, pulled in 87 percent of the vote and will represent the assembly district that covers Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona.
She beat the incumbent Ari Espinal, who was on the ballot under the Working Families and Women’s Equality lines, and Reform Party Candidate Bobby Kalotee.
Cruz, 35, was always going to win having won the Democratic primary in September– when she comfortably beat Espinal by 10 percentage points. She generated 12,820 votes yesterday to Espinal’s 1,525.
Cruz comes to the position with a great deal of political experience having worked as chief of staff to former Council Member Julissa Ferraras. She was also a member of the governor’s Exploited Workers Task Force.
However, last night’s win was a big step for a woman who immigrated from Colombia with her mother and three siblings when she was 9 years old. She lived in the shadows for the next 10 years until she won a green card. She ultimately became a citizen in 2009.
Cruz vows to protect immigrants, fight for a single payer health care system, help maintain affordable housing, and improve the decaying subway system.
“I feel so grateful that my town believed in the vision we have,” she told Telemundo 47 last night. “I didn’t do this for me. I did it for the thousands of young people and mothers that have to endure what my mother endured.They deserve government officials that represents their community, that is elected by the community, and that won’t forget about them once they are elected.”