To the editor:
(re: “Rogue Democrats disband, but some question motives,” April 12)
The reported “demise” of the Independent Democratic Conference could be good news for residents of Riverdale and the rest of Senate District 34.
Instead of continuing to trade their votes in the senate to Republicans for perks and power, the members of the IDC — led by Sen. Jeff Klein — allegedly will rejoin the Democratic caucus.
While we hope that this means they will be more responsive to their Democratic voters, there is little recent or historical support for optimism. For example, the IDC continues to raise campaign funds as a group.
It is obvious to us that the threat of primary challengers to IDC members and the governor himself played a big part in this change of direction.
Even the timing raises questions. Why did the “reconciliation” occur after the budget process, when Sen. Klein but not Democratic leader Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins had a seat at the table? Is it so that important pieces of legislation that the Democratic-led Assembly passed would not be endorsed by the senate, and in the final budget?
The next step in reclaiming our right to Democratic representation is to select a 2018 candidate whose politics and actions most reflect the needs and values of the diverse people in the district. The upcoming April 22 candidate forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and NWBronx Indivisible, and moderated by Gary Axelbank, could provide an excellent opportunity to find out.
For example, we hope to learn which candidate will best:
• Safeguard our schools, places of worship and neighborhoods from gun violence, among other ways, by fully funding the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or NYSAFE, in the next state budget.
• Make sure that all our neighborhoods have the resources to provide quality education, including the millions of dollars still owed under New York state law.
• Protect the constitutional rights of immigrants so they can continue to contribute to the growth of our economy.
• Ensure access to affordable health care, including a woman’s right to choose, if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade.
Alessandra Biaggi, who is continuing her primary challenge to Sen. Klein, will be there. We hope that Sen. Klein will be, too. His absence would show his continued contempt for the people of District 34.
The authors represent Riverdale Huddle, whose members include Sue Ellen Dodell, Annemarie Golden, Ruth Mullen, Carol Radel, Julie Marcus, Mihaela Ghiuzeli and Judith Minkoff-Grey.