Speaking on the Bernie and Sid show from New York’s 77WABC on Monday, Rich Valdes discussed the national Puerto Rican Day Parade, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s avoidance of him at the event, and her constituent’s lack of representation in her policy decisions.
Valdes and his daughter marched in the parade with Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels program, which Valdes said he supports for their tackling of gang violence in the 14th district. At one point during the parade, Valdes noticed that Ocasio-Cortez was not far from his group.
Rich Valdes on WABC Radio
“I’m walking with the Guardian Angels group and my daughter, and suddenly I see AOC is marching with a large Puerto Rican banner that read in Spanish “Altogether – those that are here and those that are there.”
Taking this banner as a message of unity, Valdes walked over to AOC “in that same manner of solidarity.” Valdes said he intended to introduce himself and mention that he had attempted to contact her via her office and Twitter.
But Valdes didn’t get the chance, for in Valdes’ words: “when [he] made eye contact with her, she literally jerked her hand back from the person she was shaking hands with, and sprinted across to the right side of 5th avenue.”
Valdes said the pushback he has received for trying to approach a woman politician is “absurd,” considering he and SIiwa exchanged pleasantries with Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney earlier that hour.
“I don’t think it is the type of climate we should live in where we are afraid of speaking towards elected officials, that’s what they’re elected to do. As a representative, you should be able to speak with the people.”
Valdes also discussed the lack of representation in Queens, where there is a congressional office open only part-time, and the Bronx, where there is no office.
When asked whether her most important work happens in her district or Washington D.C., Valdes said it only happens in D.C. if she represents the people.
“Her work proposing the Green New Deal in the House falls flat with its Senate counterpart with zero yes-votes because this didn’t represent the people in her district,” Valdes said.
“The issues [in her district] are with jobs, and when she had the chance to come out on jobs, she came out on the side of saying ’no thanks’, and sabotaged 25,000 jobs that Amazon was thinking of bringing to Queens. So I think her record in that regard is not as strong as it ought to be, and I think her constituents are aware of that.”
Valdes plans to run against Ocasio-Cortez in 2020 in order to better represent the district.