State Sen. Jose Peralta caused a stir last month when he announced that he would become the eighth Democratic member of the legislative body to join the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), which is made up of senators who often break from Democratic party lines and vote alongside Republicans.
Members of his own party blasted the senator, argued that he is empowering his GOP colleagues in Albany and threatened to find a primary opponent to run against him. The backlash from his constituents was great enough to prompt the senator to hold a town meeting in Jackson Heights last week to address the numerous complaints. And a petition is currently being circulated by one community activist that calls on Peralta to either return to the Democratic Party or resign.
But the senator has argued that he chose to switch to the IDC so he could deliver for his community, citing the minority Democratic Conference’s inability to get things done in a dysfunctional Albany. Peralta further defended his decision by noting that the conference has no plan to regain the majority and that the IDC’s agenda includes such progressive items as shielding immigrants from Donald Trump’s policies and providing farmworkers with labor protection.
While we can sympathize with constituents in Peralta’s district who are angry that the senator switched to the IDC without first floating the idea to his community during his re-election campaign last fall, he has ultimately done so to fulfill the purpose for which he was elected – bringing back results to his community.
The question, ultimately, is: To whom does Peralta most owe allegiance— his party or his community? We believe it is the latter.