BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A group of western Queens residents held a Mother’s Day rally to protest state Sen. Jose Peralta’s (D-Elm-hurst) induction into the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and demanded that he hold another town hall to address the concerns of District 13.
The IDC comprises eight Democratic state senators who have broken away from party lines to vote alongside Republicans. Shortly after announcing in January that he had switched to the IDC, Peralta held a town hall to explain to his constituents why he had joined the conference.
According to Susan Kang, the spokeswoman for NO IDC NY—an organization made up of activists in the five boroughs who inform the public about the IDC—Peralta has yet to deliver on any of the promises he made at that town hall, which is why the group held a rally demanding another town hall.
“Our community has organized this protest for several reasons,” said Kang. “First, Jose Peralta, in February’s town hall, promised to deliver on a number of things, including the Dream Act. He claimed that the IDC was the only prochoice conference in the Senate. He also promised another town hall after the budget passed. Here we are, a month after the budget passed, with no town hall. We are disappointed with the budget, which has no Dream Act and also fails to protect the families of Peralta’s district.”
The group, along with the New Visions Democratic Club, chose Mother’s Day weekend for the protest to draw attention to issues affecting women, such as single-payer healthcare, protection of reproductive rights, emergency funding for Planned Parenthood and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
“We wanted to get the message out that he fails mothers and families with what he’s done,” Kang said. “All of these things are really important to parents.”
Aside from protests, NO IDC NY has been visiting communities across the five boroughs to inform them about the IDC.
“I didn’t know what the IDC was until hearing that Peralta, my senator, became a member,” Kang said.
Following the rally, the Queens Tribune spoke with Peralta and he discussed what has taken place since he joined the IDC.
“Firstly, I respect everyone’s right to disagree with elected officials and public leaders,” Peralta said.
“Everyone has a right to rally, but the bottom line here is that I represent a very diverse district. I represent hundreds of people who are very eclectic, with different issues that affect different areas.”
Peralta said that frustration with President Donald Trump is causing some of his constituents to take out their anger on him. But he said that he joined the IDC to have “a seat at the table.”
“Having a seat has allowed me to pass bills I’ve never passed before,” Peralta said. “I’ve not only secured budget dollars for nonprofits, which is something I’ve never been able to do, but I was the one who championed and pushed for the $10 million for the Legal Aid Society. The things that are happening now are because I have this seat at the table.”
Peralta said that while he respects NO IDC NY’s right to protest, he has told the community “time and time again” to give him an opportunity to show that he can deliver.
“The problem is that we’re living in an era where people want instant gratification and results immediately,” he said. “I’m trying to bring issues to the floor and I hope, with time, that those people protesting will realize I’m trying to do good.”
Upon being asked why he hasn’t held a second town hall, Peralta said that the Senate’s session isn’t over and the budget has not yet been finalized.
“We’re still trying to work on some things,” Peralta said. “I want to be able to push and pass some of these issues that weren’t in the budget. ”
The full interview with Peralta is online.