During her campaign, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Party’s rising “democratic-socialist” icon, painted herself as the “girl from the Bronx.” She uses the image to project herself as a working-class woman determined to represent her people’s interests in Washington.
“I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family — mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your Zip code determines your destiny,” she told the Washington Post this week, reiterating similar sentiment during an interview with Stephen Colbert.
However, her “girl from the Bronx” moniker doesn’t paint a complete picture.
What’s the truth?
Indeed, it’s true just one year ago the 28-year-old woman, who will almost surely become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, was working as a bartender. Yes, she also defeated 10-term congressman Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who was widely believed to succeed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the next Democratic leader in the House.
According to the New York Times, it’s true Ocasio-Cortez was born into the doldrums of the Bronx. However, at the ripe age of 5, Ocasio-Cortez’s late father, Sergio Ocasio, an architect, moved her family an hour north to Yorktown Heights, a wealthy suburb of New York City in Westchester County.
Yorktown Heights, ironically, is the opposite of the Bronx. In a 1999 New York Times profile of Yorktown Heights, the town supervisor described it as “a folksy area where people can come, kick off their shoes, wander around, sit in a cafe, listen to a concert in the park, or go to the theater.” Ocasio-Cortez would have been about 10 years old at the time.
Overall, Westchester County is one of the most wealthy counties in the United States; it’s even where former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton reside.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly three-quarters of the county’s 980,000 people are white, the average home price is more than a half million dollars, the median household income is nearly $90,000 and just 10 percent of the county lives in poverty. CNBC even ranked the county as the 8th richest county in the U.S. when considering wealth concentration of the area’s richest 1 percent.
Ocasio-Cortez lived in Westchester County until she left for college. She attended Boston University, where she graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations.
Ocasio-Cortez now resides in the same Bronx neighborhood, Parkchester, where she lived prior to moving to Westchester County.