Marra is vying to represent the working families who live, work, and go to school in Astoria, Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside.
New York State Senate District 13 is one of the most diverse areas in the world. More than 60% of residents identify as immigrants and more than 160 languages are spoken in the largely working class district. The district is also home to a vibrant LGBTQ community.
In her first run for public office, Marra raised nearly $50,000 from 210 individual contributions in just 30-days to challenge the incumbent José Peralta. Peralta is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a breakaway group of eight Democrats who support the Republican leadership in the Senate. Although there are more Democrats than Republicans in the State Senate, the IDC arrangement keeps the Republicans in control, blocking common-sense progressive legislation from passing.
“New York State must serve as a defence against the real and dangerous threats coming out of Washington, but turncoat Democrats like José Peralta are empowering the party of Donald Trump. We need new, honest leadership to protect and expand affordable housing; modernise the broken MTA; deliver the funding our schools need and deserve; and invest in New York’s overburdened public hospitals, including Elmhurst Hospital,” Marra said.
In July 2017, the incumbent Peralta received $20,000 alone from Richard LeFrak, a close personal friend and major donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“At a time when New York is grappling to maintain its quality of life, Peralta has chosen to align himself with the Republican agenda at the expense of the people he was elected to serve. I am running to break this stranglehold in Albany and directly tackle the issues that matter most to the working and middle class,” Marra said.
Adopted from South Korea as an infant and raised by a healthcare professional and analytical chemical technician in the Capital Region, Marra first cut her teeth in activism in high school by organising and lobbying for the Dignity for All Students Act, a statewide bill to protect students from harassment and discrimination in K-12 public schools.
Marra has since spent her entire career in advocacy, tirelessly working at the intersections of social, racial, economic, and gender justice. The day after high school graduation, she moved to New York City to begin a summer internship at a national LGBTQ organisation. Soon after, she attended Pace University full-time and worked full-time to help pay for her tuition. In her career, she served as a senior media strategist at GLAAD; served as co-director of a progressive Korean community organisation; managed public relations for GLSEN; and has managed external communications at the Arcus Foundation for the past four years.
Throughout Marra’s childhood, her parents instilled the value of servant leadership, including a focus on those most vulnerable. Whether supporting survivors of violence or working with homeless young people, she has dedicated her career to issues of fairness, equality, and justice. She has campaigned for marriage equality, worked to repeal the discriminatory military ban Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and fought to protect transgender people from discrimination. Today, Marra serves on the boards of Freedom for All Americans, an organization working to advance comprehensive nondiscrimination protections nationwide and Just Detention International, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence in prisons.
If Marra wins the September 11 primary, she will become the first Asian American elected to the New York State Senate and the state’s first-ever transgender elected official. Her candidacy represents the new wave of progressive millennials seeking public office. In 2017 women, people of colour, and LGBTQ people made history, including eight transgender individuals who won races in California, Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Virginia.
In 2009, Marra moved to Queens in search of a safe and affordable neighbourhood. More than eight years later, she and her fiancé proudly call Jackson Heights their home. Like her neighbours, she is a tenant that pays rent, regularly uses public transportation, and relies on job-based health insurance.
“The authenticity and experiences of the people who reside in our community are daily reminders of why I call Queens home. In this dangerous Trump era, Queens needs a driven and experienced state senator who will work alongside the community to improve our quality of life and ensure New York truly becomes a progressive and Democratic state. As my campaign advances I look forward to meeting more of my neighbors, listening to their specific concerns and engaging a network of donors excited to support my candidacy,” Marra said.
Over the past decade Marra has received numerous accolades. She was named one of the 100 Most Influential Asian Americans in 2017; chosen as one of The White House’s Next Generation of LGBT Leaders; and selected for The Advocate’sForty Under 40 list. She also received a Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award, a GLSEN Pathfinder Award, and a National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Community Catalyst Award. She additionally made the inaugural Trans 100 List.