By Allana Haynes
Two Dominican women from Manhattan are trying to break into the male-dominated New York State legislature this year — one in the Senate and one in the Assembly.
Marisol Alcantara is one of four candidates, and the only woman, vying to replace Adriano Espaillat in Senate District 31. Carmen De La Rosa is challenging incumbent Guillermo Linares for Assembly District 72.
Espaillat is endorsing them both, calling it the “year of the woman.” Espaillat is the Democratic congressional nominee and presumptive replacement for former U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel.
Support from Espaillat lends a competitive edge to these women. Like him, De La Rosa and Alcantara are Dominican, an advantage in northern Manhattan where more than 66 percent of foreign born citizens are Dominican, the largest immigrant group in the city.
“Espaillat’s support means the world to me,” said De La Rosa. “He is a fighter for the things that matter most, and I look up to the work that he has done.”
De La Rosa is an advocate for protecting women’s rights, improving education and environmental protection. She has a two-year-old daughter named Mia. If elected she would be the only Dominican woman in the State Assembly.
“I believe that I am setting an example for my daughter and her peers that a new generation of leadership is flourishing in our community and that (women) have a place at the table,” said De La Rosa.
Alcantara, like De La Rosa, hopes to provide affordable housing, supports funding of local public schools and wants to inspire and support more Latinos and women in public office.
Less than one third of the 150 members in the New York State Assembly are women. Of the 63 State Senators, only 12 are women, which is less than twenty percent.