UPDATED: Now that a judge has backed the New York State Senate’s expulsion of Hiram Monserrate, a special election in his district will take place. There remains a possibility that Monserrate could still run to win back his seat. It is unclear whether the New York State Senate’s expulsion of disgraced senator Hiram Monserrate will be overturned. But this is not stopping candidates from tossing their hats into the electoral races that could be triggered with Monserrate’s ouster.
Last week, several elected officials announced their endorsement of Assemblyman Jose Peralta in his bid to replace Monserrate. And earlier this month, Francisco Moya, a former staffer to Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, declared that he would run for Peralta’s seat, should it become available.
Now, longtime grassroots activist Bryan Pu-Folkes is expected to announce next week that he will also seek to represent to the 39th Assembly District, which could mean a real electoral race for the Queens area.
An immigration attorney who says his clients are mostly low-income families, Pu-Folkes founded the nonprofit organization New Immigrant Communities for Empowerment (NICE) 10 years ago.
“We need new leadership in Albany that will help promote working class issues in particular,” Pu-Folkes told El Diario-La Prensa yesterday. Among the issues he has worked on and wants to focus on are wage theft, enforcement of labor laws and closing loopholes that leave some workers vulnerable to abuse by employers.
Pu-Folkes unsuccessfully ran for a City Council seat in 2005. He says he lacked some political sophistication that he has gained since then.
Moya, who in the past worked for the State Senate, is Ecuadorian—a background that is certain to have appeal in a district with a growing Ecuadorian community yearning for political representation.
While he understands this appeal, Pu-Folkes, whose wife is Latina, says he believes voters will go with the candidate who has delivered the most to immigrant families. “I have been encouraged to run mostly by Latinos in the district…I am humbled by that.”
Pu-Folkes said his parents, who are from Burma and Jamaica, confronted cultural and language barriers when they arrived in New York in 1959. “I grew up in an environment learning how to speak up for rights,” he said.