Alessandra Biaggi, the granddaughter of the well-known advocate for the Irish community in New York, Mario Biaggi, last night upset longtime incumbent state Sen. Jeff Klein in New York.
The 32-year-old claimed victory in the primary for the state Senate seat in the 34th District, which includes parts of Westchester and the Bronx. Klein had held the seat for 14 years.
“This is not just because of me, this is because of every single one of you who were courageous, who saw a vision, who knew that we could not tolerate democrats empowering Republicans,” said Biaggi Thursday night.
Her grandfather served in the New York City Police Department for 23 years and was a Democratic representative in Congress from The Bronx between 1969 to 1988.
During his time in office, he was an avid supporter and friend of the Irish and Irish American communities in New York, having even supported Sinn Féin when their members sought U.S. visas during the early years of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Striving to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps, Biaggi wants to ensure that all voices are heard and ran her campaign for District 34 on acceptance.
#SD34, on this #fourthofjuly -- may each of us strive ardently for the truth, practice tolerance and empathy towards our neighbors, and reject the urge to stay afraid in our effort to love one another more. pic.twitter.com/P2FqtZhIgO— Alessandra Biaggi (@Biaggi4NY) July 4, 2018
“The part that draws a parallel between myself and my grandfather is that I’m running a campaign that is incredibly inclusive and diverse that does not turn anybody away or leave anybody behind. I think that is one of the most important things that I’m trying to put forth every single day,” Biaggi said.
“A lot of people would come to see him [her grandfather] when he was in the district and the lines would be done the block… what that really taught me was that he never turned anyone away and that he made time for everybody. Every person was able to be heard.”
In keeping with this inclusive spirit, Alessandra plans to establish a better sense of community for new arrivals to this country from Ireland and elsewhere by constructing community centers such as the Aisling Irish center in Woodlawn, The Bronx.
“There are still Irish people who are coming here for the first time and we want to make sure that they are not only taken care of but that they understand the process of how to become a citizen or how to get access to certain services and not to feel afraid.
“I know that there are senior centers and other places where people are coming together, but I think we can also do better to bridge gaps between communities.”
In #Riverdale for the Connacht #GAA Football Senior Championship in #GaelicPark @NewYorkGAA played @LeitrimGAA | With Lawrence McGrath, President of the #NYGAA, Nollaig Cleary, President of the NY Ladies GAA, Terry Connaughton, Rosie O'Reilly, Past President of the NY Ladies GAA pic.twitter.com/5hgeKuXTjt— Alessandra Biaggi (@Biaggi4NY) May 6, 2018
Similarly, in terms of policy, she is also keen on making health care more affordable and accessible to those in need.
“I am a huge proponent of the fact that healthcare is a human right, so the fact that people don’t have health care or that we are aging and don’t have the money to pay for certain pills; it’s very alarming to me, but I know it’s something we can fix in the legislature. I’ve visited several senior centers in Woodlawn and the thing that I am hearing is that [the cost of] medication is so high.”
Amid the division taking place in this country between those who are pro and anti-immigration, those such as Alessandra Biaggi are taking steps to ensure that both new arrivals and established Americans can feel a sense of community and overall well-being.