Interviews & Profiles

Ramos is ‘interested in seeing how the landscape takes shape’ in NYC mayoral race

The state senator from Queens is going toe to toe with Steve Cohen. Is Eric Adams next?

State Sen. Jessica Ramos speaks at a rally for the CUNY faculty and staff union.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos speaks at a rally for the CUNY faculty and staff union. Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

For months, state Sen. Jessica Ramos’ name has been floated as a potential 2025 challenger to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, but lately, she’s had more pressing issues on her mind. Take for example a casino proposal in her district driven by hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen. She announced her formal opposition to the plan on Tuesday but hardly expects Cohen to give up now that her decision is made. In the process, Ramos rankled other Queens lawmakers who supported the plan and resented the level of influence she held over its fate.

Unfazed, she said outside of the casino issue, she’s working on a package of labor bills with less than a week left to get them across the goalpost in Albany. She also has her eyes on November, not just for herself but for the Democratic Party. Former President Donald Trump, awaiting sentencing on 34 charges stemming from his Manhattan fraud case, is firmly in her crosshairs. Brushing off questions about her mayoral ambitions, Ramos said she believes Democrats in New York should stay focused on making sure President Joe Biden stays in the White House, and that Trump should be “put in jail.” City & State caught up with her Thursday on her way back from the state Capitol for a phone interview to discuss the casino project, the New York City mayoral race and more. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What went into your recent announcement that you wouldn’t support Steve Cohen’s casino proposal?

Well, I’ve long said that I’ve aimed to create a community review process where nothing is mandated, and after three town halls, commissioning a poll, a survey – I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had with constituents – it was clear that my neighbors overwhelmingly don’t want to host a casino in our backyard, and the poll alone showed 75% of my neighbors oppose the casino.

What are you expecting Steve Cohen’s response to be?

His response has been that he would figure out how to go around me, which I think shows that he is not interested in being a good neighbor and listening to the vast majority of voices who wish to see our green space expanded and see other economic activity that isn’t predatory.

There are only a couple days left in this session, what else is on your mind for this final stretch?

I’m really interested in checking off the bills on my worker safety agenda, and still fighting for retail worker safety. I’m fighting for the Warehouse Worker Injury Reduction Act, and fighting for temporary disability insurance reform and I’m fighting for TEMP, which is really critical to do in the last days of session, given the high temperatures that we’re expecting this summer.

How do you feel about some of these bills’ chances to get across the finish line?

I think I’m confident that workers, advocates and myself, we’ve done our job in making our case for why this is important to do right now, and I’m hoping to cross that finish line next week.

I’m sure you saw that state Sen. Zellnor Myrie decided to run for mayor of New York City. What is your opinion on his campaign, and how may it affect your own decision to enter the race?

I think I’m interested in seeing how the landscape takes shape over the next several months. But right now, what’s most important is getting President Joe Biden reelected come November.

What do you think New York Democrats can do to help that happen?

Well, I think particularly in Latino and Asian communities, it’s important that we make the case against xenophobic rhetoric and against having a convicted felon as president. That’s not in the best interest of our communities or of any community.

Are you part of the growing calls that if former President Donald Trump is found guilty in his fraud case, he should be sent to jail?

Yes, if he’s found guilty he should be put in jail. Regardless of the outcome of that case, we already know that he’s been found to have raped a woman and to have broken the law in many ways and to have run several businesses into the ground, none of which should be on the CV of our sitting president. And I would add to that list insurrection and high treason. We can have a real American as president, and a real American would not try to incite people to ambush our U.S. Capitol.

So in your eyes not only is he a criminal, he is unfit to hold the office?

I'm a mother, so that's not a role model. Donald Trump is not someone our children should look up to.

Touching on the casino situation again, how did you feel seeing Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jeffrion Aubry’s comments on your casino stance?

If you saw his comments, you saw my response, hopefully, as well. I refuse for his last few days in legislative session and in elected office to be marred by any conflict with me.