Catalina Cruz, the Democratic nominee for New York’s 39th Assembly District in Queens, hosted one of her weekly “coffee talks” Wednesday morning at Elmhurst’s Blue Café.

    About 10 community members showed up to the bilingual talk, which was conducted in English and Spanish, to help Cruz better understand her hopeful constituents’ needs over coffee and breakfast pastries.

    The issues of health care and services for those with disabilities dominated the conversation. One attendee requested information about a potential state-run universal health care program in the event that Congress overturns the Affordable Care Act.

    “Medicare for all, insurance for everyone. We need to get to the table to see how it works,” Cruz replied. “There’s no reason people need to go to the emergency room for care. It’s inconceivable.”

    Assemblymember-elect Catalina Cruz meets with future constituents. Photo by MIchael Rock

    Another woman at the talk expressed concerns about the well-being of her sister, who is destitute, reliant on supplemental security income to survive, and lacks knowledge of relevant social services to make life easier. Despite filling out the necessary paperwork, her sister was still denied assistance.

    Cruz expressed empathy for the woman’s concerns, indicating that she could relate due to having an autistic godson “fighting for services to get his needs met.” Though she said nothing can currently be done at the federal level, “at the state level, we can elect people dedicated to pushing in the right direction.”

    Other topics that came up included education. As an alumna of CUNY, Cruz indicated that she favored enough “additional funding” to ensure that the city university could function with “free tuition.”

    An additional attendee indicated concern for increased taxes while the quality of life has decreased, drawing attention to graffiti; growth in violent crime; and the presence of four separate gangs at the local high school.

    Another attendee who identified himself as the landlord of his building, didn’t have any specific issues but wanted to know “more information to help his tenants.”

    Cruz also made it clear that the coffee talk was one of a few being held at different locations in the assembly district before Election Day on November 6.

    “Let’s finally get me elected and make sure we can work together,” she said.

    The district includes Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

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