Progressive Candidate Julia Salazar Looks for Upset Win

Julia Salazar (middle) (Photo via campaign website)

Following the upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over longtime incumbent congressman Joseph Crowley, media reports and statements of endorsement have described State Senate candidate Julia Salazar as possibly “the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” The two political newcomers are both members of the Democratic Socialists of America, running for district seats that include parts of Brooklyn, have canvassed together, and are in their 20s.

However, as Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, Salazar “isn’t the next me, she’s the first HER.”

In an interview with Gotham Gazette’s Daniel Yadin, Salazar tells her story – her living situation as an undergraduate at Columbia that prompted her to organize her fellow tenants, and how participation in grassroots groups and campaigning for Hillary Clinton eventually led her to decide to run.

Salazar is challenging state Sen. Martin Malavè Dilan in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for the District 18 seat, which encompasses parts of northern Brooklyn. She is running a grassroots campaign that supports, among other positions, free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools, Medicare for All and abolishing ICE. Another critical component of her platform is housing justice, an issue particularly relevant to neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, parts of which are located in her district.

Yadin writes in Gotham Gazette:

Her politics are informed heavily by what she calls her “lived experience and class experience.” Salazar was born in Colombia in 1990 and moved as a baby to South Florida, where her mother raised her and her brother.

“She really struggled to support me and my brother financially,” Salazar said. “I started working when I was 14 in a grocery store, then through high school in the service industry, then as a domestic worker through college at Columbia.”

Entering Columbia in 2009 immediately after high school, Salazar found her first opportunities to become involved in social justice work, joining the Israel/Palestine activism scene as a member of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace. The Ivy League school also exposed her, for the first time, to immense wealth, and was instrumental in developing her class consciousness and progressive politics. (…)

Alyssa Fisher of The Forward describes the Jewish support for Salazar, who herself is Jewish.

Jews for Julia, run by activists such as Sophie Ellman-Golan, stands behind Salazar’s desire for a purely grassroots race, hosting events to raise funds rather than collecting donations from corporations, landlords and developers. The week following Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, Salazar’s campaign raised more than $20,000 from hundreds of contributors, the Intercept reported. Jews for Julia also confirmed that she works as an organizer for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, an organization that calls on Jewish communities to play an impactful role in the movement for justice. She’s currently on leave to devote more time to campaigning.

Salazar has scooped up a number of endorsements, including from Cynthia Nixon to Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Council member Antonio Reynoso, and the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road Action.

Bushwick Daily’s Brian Jones Kraft covered an interview conducted by podcaster Virgil Texas with Salazar at Starr Bar in front of a live audience of primarily Democratic Socialist members and supporters.

An event that at the start of Salazar’s four month old campaign may have seemed like the meeting of a middleweight political sect seemed to carry greater significance – even for those outside of District 18 that represents much of North Brooklyn including Bushwick.

For more on Salazar’s platform and positions on various issues, go to Bushwick Daily.

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  1. Pingback: – Ocasio-Cortez: A Political Revolutionary Still Catching Up on Her District’s Issues

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