U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed a slate of candidates running for Assembly, including Jessica Altagracia Woolford, who hopes to defeat Jeffrey Dinowitz for his long-held seat representing Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and parts of Norwood and Wakefield.
“Jessica Altagracia Woolford is a mom, wife, caregiver, and organizer,” according to a statement released by Ocasio-Cortez’s office. “During the pandemic, (she) started a mutual aid effort that delivered 30,000 pounds of fresh produce and thousands of masks to her neighbors. These state Assembly candidates are renters, teachers and parents challenging real estate-bought politicians who have blocked housing and health care for all.”
Woolford said she’s grateful for the support.
“I am proud to have the endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as we prepare for the final stretch of our campaign,” she said in a release. “Bronxites are tired of being treated as afterthoughts by those in power, but she gets it. “We need leaders in the New York state Assembly who will put people over profits, and I’m ready to fight for transformative change for all of our communities from Wakefield to Riverdale.
“Our time is now, and we are ready to win.”
All of the challengers endorsed by AOC already had backing from the Working Families Party.
“We need Assembly leaders whose campaigns aren’t being underwritten by powerful real estate interests, Big Pharma, and corporate polluters,” a spokesman for Working Families said, in a statement.
Woolford has recently gone on the offensive in the Assembly race after telling reporters she had pressured Dinowitz into pushing along a bill aimed at helping survivors of sexual assault. Woolford had been featured in a widely distributed social media segment calling for the state to close a loophole which prevents victims of sexual assault from pressing charges if they voluntarily became intoxicated in certain cases.
“It shouldn’t take a primary challenge or a NowThis video for Assemblyman Dinowitz to listen to survivors, or do his job — but that’s what finally forced him to do the right thing: pressure,” Woolford said. “This moment delivers new hope for survivors who have been fighting for justice for years in Albany.”
The race to represent Democrats for the seat in November is down to just Woolford and Dinowitz, the incumbent, after George Diaz failed to qualify for the ballot.
The Assembly primary is scheduled for June 28.
Following the recent shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people earlier this month, state lawmakers have pleaded for the state to strengthen its gun laws to curb future mass shootings.
In his weekly newsletter, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said that the state’s 2019 “red flag” laws, which were enacted to help prevent these types of shootings, are not being properly enforced. “The person who committed this act of domestic terrorism was obviously a risk, and someone should have taken action to prevent him from accessing firearms,” he said.
Dinowitz also called on social media platforms to clamp down on users who are using their sites to spread hate. He said, “The Buffalo shooter was apparently active on Discord and 4Chan, where he posted and shared anti-Black and anti-Semitic opinions as well as a lengthy diatribe about how he prepared for this mass shooting.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul similarly condemned the online environments that spread bigotry and played a part in radicalizing the alleged shooter. “The most serious threat we face as a nation is from within. It’s not from the Russians. Not from people elsewhere. It’s white supremacism,” Hochul said in a May 18 speech.
In that meeting, Hochul also announced that she had signed an executive order to strengthen the state’s “red flag” laws by allowing the New York State Police to get emergency orders from a judge that will allow them to take guns away from people who they believe are a threat to the public or to themselves.
Yet with the legislative session scheduled to end on June 2, state lawmakers are up against the clock if they hope to pass stronger comprehensive gun legislation.