Emotional Swearing-Ins for New Queens Latina Representatives

Catalina Cruz sworn in as Assembly member for Queens’s District 39 before Judge Jenny Rivera and her mother Rosa Agudelo. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Before a large group of New York politicians, Catalina Cruz was sworn in as Assembly member for Queens’s District 39, which includes Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. It was an emotional ceremony at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s New York Hall of Science on Sunday afternoon.

There were empanadas, beer and sangria, and people danced to the songs of Charlie Cajares, former singer of [Colombian salsa band] Grupo Niche.

“This is a celebration for a community that is fighting for its own destiny,” said Assemblywoman Cruz, raising the Bible that her first client gave to her when she started as a lawyer. “This is the path that God showed me.”

(…) “More than 26 years ago my mother brought me to this city and it became my responsibility to run for office to represent my community and do things differently,” said Assemblywoman Cruz, who spoke in Spanish and sent a message to immigrant parents: “To those who work so hard for so little money, I assure you that you will be valued. Thank you for your sacrifice and I will be fighting for your benefit.”

The Democratic official also talked about small businesses and mentioned the Rico Tinto restaurant closing as a case of “landlord abuse.” She vowed to fight for driver’s licenses for the undocumented, to better fund public schools and confront the MTA to improve public transportation in the city.

[Below are excerpts of a story on Jessica Ramos’ investiture.]

Jessica Ramos sworn in by state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, joined by her mother Melfy Londoño. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

“We are here celebrating a national movement to empower communities and recognize our population’s diversity,” said Jessica Ramos, state senator for Queens’s District 13, which includes Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Astoria.

The Democratic official took office on Friday at a ceremony in which the absence of her husband and children stood out (…)

“This was a great event, as was the speech, and I believe Sen. Ramos will fight to pass laws that are important for the community,” said Corona resident Andrea Lewis.

Felipe Idrovo, of Make the Road New York, was not convinced by Ramos’ speech. “It was emotional and short, and it lacked concrete points to boost the community,” he said.

(…) “We are very proud of Jessica because she is smart and has worked for the community,” said Leila Bermúdez, director of youth programs for the organization Elmcor, where the event took place. “Jessica is an example for any immigrant who aspires to improve their life.”

Bermúdez talked beside a table where there were elotes with mayonnaise, cheese and spicy chili. (…)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who arrived late because he was in Washington dealing with the shutdown, danced salsa with state Sen. Ramos. (…)

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