State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) held a event packed meet and greet with Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday at Praise Tabernacle Church in Jamaica, giving the Queens community the opportunity to hear the rising political star's views on a myriad of topics and ask questions.
"We are here because the people of Queens, as did people from all over, stood up to achieve a political victory," Sanders said. "The people have said we are not going to go down the same tired road. As Albert Einstein said: "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.' We are no longer going to be insane. We are not going to be scared to be happy. We can decide on a different road. A new day has arrived and the harbinger of this new day is here."
Ocasio-Cortez, 28, from the Bronx defeated Rep. Joe Crowley of the 14th Congressional District in the June Democratic primary, which many considered an unexpected and major political upset. She also won a primary in the neighboring 15th Congressional District via a write-in campaign on the Reform line over the incumbent Democrat Rep. Jose Serrano. However, she declined that nomination, instead choosing to represent the 14th Congressional District.
"This election was not just one moment or one thing that happened that is going to change everything and make it good," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I think it was the start of a reformation and we have so much more that we need to do. Ultimately, it's the processes of government in the borough that are so upside down. The idea that we can just avoid democracy and play merry-go-round with vacancies to prevent these seats from being Democratically elected creates a much larger problem."
At the event, Ocasio-Cortez spoke about topics that ranged from education and the economy to environmental concerns and how to inspire more women to run for political office. Ocasio-Cortez supports improved and expanded Medicare-for-All, a Federal Jobs Guarantee, tuition-free college, one-stop civic centers, democracy reform and criminal justice reform. She is very proud of the fact that she ran a grass roots campaign and did not accept any money from lobbyists.
When asked about how more women can get involved in politics, Ocasio-Cortez said: "My advice is to just go straight to where the people are. It's not that hard. Go out, touch people, show them that you love them, ask them for their vote after you have made a sensitive commitment to improving their lives - that's all you need to do to run for office."
She also added that women are often told by their peers that they are not ready to run for office. To that, Ocasio-Cortez said: "We need encouragement. They will always raise that hoop higher, but we have to give ourselves permission to run."
We would like to thank the event's co-sponsors for their support - CommUnity1st, Hearts Across Queens, Justice for All, Life Camp, Make the Road Action, New Queens Dems, NYPAN, 100 Suits for 100 Men, Queens Action Council, Queens Huddle, Rockaway Revolution, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST), and the Working Families Party. We would also like to thank Praise Tabernacle Church for allowing us to use their space to host the event.