Necessary Measures: Why I Joined the IDC

Necessary Measures: Why I Joined the IDC

Necessary Measures: Why I Joined the IDC
April 5, 2014

Most people already know this about me: I hate politics. Always have. I got into politics to serve the public by helping cut through bureaucratic red tape and provide positive results, to be a true advocate for the people who elected me. I pride myself on my good-government record, and that is why most of those who know my values are not shocked or upset by my recent move to join the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). 

Yes, I was skeptical at first, to say the least. In fact, I was one of the more outspoken opponents of the IDC after they broke away from the Democratic minority conference and established a power-sharing agreement with the Senate Republicans in 2012. I did not understand the logic and was extremely uncertain of the outcome. Yet two years later, here we are. Albany is working for the people again, and under state Sen. Jeff Klein’s leadership the IDC has developed a clear, progressive agenda for New York’s middle class and working families. They have shown an ability to get things done, something I struggled to achieve within my former conference. 

The IDC has worked in a collaborative, bipartisan way to pass new gun control laws, increase the minimum wage, extend low middle class tax rates, provide universal prekindergarten to thousands of New York children and control the ever-increasing medical costs endured by our senior citizens. Those are not just big victories for New Yorkers—those are big Democratic victories. 

In addition to their accomplishments, I also appreciated the IDC’s vision as to where we need to take New York. At the very start of the year, they laid out a robust plan focused on making New York more affordable for working families and senior citizens, which is always crucial. The IDC, now with myself included, continues to fight for education funding, new programs for middle class housing, child-care subsidies, environmental funding and tuition assistance, just to name a few. Those are all things I always thought were vital and wanted to accomplish. By having a bigger role in policy making, I am able to do more for my constituents and accomplish these goals—there is no better justification than that. 

It is worth mentioning that I have never shied away from bipartisanship and continually worked with my Republican colleagues on issues of importance to my constituents prior to joining the IDC. My constituents did not send me to Albany to work in a partisan stalemate. They sent me to Albany to affect progress and change by working with my colleagues across the aisle. That is why the move simply made sense. 

There have been rumors and assumptions that I had to compromise my values to join the IDC. Well, there is a reason they are called rumors and assumptions. I have every intention of continuing to fight for issues that are important to my constituents and New Yorkers as a whole, such as a statewide ban on hydrofracking, expanded senior center programs, good-government legislation, animal welfare, additional higher education funding, tax relief for middle class property owners and stronger renters’ rights. 

I do not believe that voters judge me by how closely I stick to the status quo. I think my constituents already know how tireless an advocate I am, and my colleagues may soon realize that civic advocacy is my only motivator. 

Strained relations with the Democratic Conference may be a by-product of my decision, but the bottom line is that my constituents did not elect me to get along with every lawmaker in the Senate. They elected me to provide results for my district, something I am accomplishing at a much higher rate as the newest member of the IDC. 

State Sen. Tony Avella, a Democrat whose district encompasses part of northeast Queens, joined the Independent Democratic Conference in February.