Jan. 25, 2018 By Tara Law
A Jackson Heights woman and former city hall staffer announced today that she will run against incumbent Jose Peralta for his state Senate seat.
Jessica Ramos, 32, is running as a “real Democrat” to represent Senate District 13, which includes Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona. She held a press conference announcing her run at P.S. 69, where her two sons attend school.
Ramos said that her decision to run was largely motivated by Peralta’s decision to join the Independent Democratic Conference, a break-away group of Democratic senators who joined forces with Republicans to form a majority in the aftermath of the 2016 election.
She choose to make the announcement today since it marks the one year anniversary since Peralta joined the IDC.
“One year ago today, the bigot in the White House announced a travel ban on majority Muslim countries, targeting our fellow Queens residents and making them feel unsafe. That same day, our state senator —who calls himself a Democrat — joined the conference that concedes control of our senate to Republicans,” Ramos said.
The break-away group tipped the balance of power in the Senate. Although Democrats have had the majority of seats—the eight-member coalition’s decision to caucus with the Republican has helped put the Republicans in control.
Peralta contends that his affiliation with the IDC has allowed him to bring great resources back to the district and that he has maintained his progressive values. Furthermore, he has been able to pass significantly more bills, he says, including legislation to provide paid parental leave and a minimum wage increase.
Ramos said that the IDC—with members such as Peralta—has put the protection of women’s rights and immigrant rights at risk, since the Republicans are in control.
“Now more than ever, state government should be our defensive line against the Trump White House—but instead, our state senator is siding with Republicans to block single-payer healthcare, the DREAM Act, and more,” she said. “I’m a real Democrat, and I will vote with my party.”
Ramos, who has lived in the district for her entire life, has worked for much of her career as a communications specialist for workers’ unions and the city.
Ramos had most recently worked as the Director of Latino Media for the mayor, acting as a liaison between City Hall and the Latino media. She left that position in December.
She served as the Democratic District Leader from 2010 to 2014 and is a former member of Community Board 3.
“I’ve worked in public service for my whole life,” Ramos said. “I want to be a spokesperson and an advocate for my neighbors.”
Ramos lives in Jackson Heights with her husband Brendan Sexton, who is the director of organizing at UFCW Local 1500, and her two sons, aged 4 and 6.
Ramos spoke at her press conference today in Bengali and Spanish. She told the audience that she is the daughter of Colombian immigrants and wants New York State to become a sanctuary state.
She also said that she is committed to pursuing stronger protections for tenants and aims to repeal the Urstadt Law, which restricts New York City from passing stricter rent regulations.