By MICHAEL GARETH JOHNSON
State Senator Jose Peralta died suddenly on Wednesday. The cause was a heart attack, sources have told the Queens Tribune. The representative of Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside was the first Dominican-American to be elected to the state Senate. Peralta had served in the chamber since 2010. Before he was elected to the senate in a special election to replace Hiram Monserrate, Peralta served as an assemblyman for nearly eight years.
In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised Peralta’s service.
“I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Senator Jose Peralta. Senator Peralta was a dedicated public servant, a relentless advocate for Queens and a pioneer as the first Dominican-American elected to the New York State Senate. As a Member of the Assembly for eight years and then as Senator, he fought tirelessly to make a difference for others, and he will always be remembered for his service to Queens and to all New Yorkers. This is a reminder of how precious life is — hold your families a little bit closer today as we think about all we are thankful for.
Several sources have told the Tribune that Senator Peralta was handing out turkeys to his constituents right before he suffered the heart attack. The source said the event was very emotional for the Queens politician.
“People were thanking him for his years of service and telling Peralta that they were going to miss him.” the source said.
Queens City Councilman Francisco Moya, who represented Peralta’s Assembly district after he was elected to the state Senate, issued this statement.
“In private, Senator Peralta often had a gentle demeanor. But that belied the fierce fighter he was for the people whom he dedicated his life to representing. He was a tireless advocate for his constituents, our Dominican community and our neighborhoods. At the end of the day, his decisions were always motivated by a drive to bring his community everything it deserved.
“Jose was a kind man and a friend. Most importantly, he was a terrific husband and an amazing father. His passing is a reminder to us all of how fragile life is and to give our loved ones an extra hug this Thanksgiving. Jose will be greatly missed,” Moya added.
A graduate of Flushing High School and Queens College, Peralta rose quickly in state politics working on the campaigns of State Sen. Toby Stavisky, Comptroller Alan Hevesi, and the U.S. Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton. This past September, he was defeated in a Democratic primary by Jessica Ramos.
Peralta is survived by his wife Evelyn and his two sons, Myles and Matthew.