City Council District 20
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
By Richard Yeh : Producer, WNYC News
In November, 2001, John Liu made New York City history by becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the City Council. Now, as Liu sets his eyes on the office of city comptroller, a handful of Asian-American candidates are hoping to follow his footsteps into politics.
John Liu has enjoyed significant popularity throughout his two terms as a councilman for the ethnically diverse District 20 that includes Flushing. And at a recent candidate forum attended by over a hundred people, John Choe reminded everyone of his ties to Liu.
CHOE: If you like John Liu, you will love John Choe. Who agrees that John Liu has done a great job as council member? Yes, because he does not think in the traditional term of what it means to be a council member.
Choe is Liu’s chief of staff, and he counts the incumbent’s accomplishments as also largely his own. The 39-year-old native of Korea entered the race at a relatively late stage and trails other candidates in fundraising. But he’s got the backing of Queens County leaders, as well as major labor unions including 1199. Like his current boss, Choe speaks eloquently of the issues facing the community, such as the need for support for downtown Flushing’s many immigrant business owners.
CHOE: We have to move the Small Business Solution center from Jamaica to Flushing. Or even create a new center here in Flushing. They have to speak Chinese, they have to speak Korean, they have to speak Spanish, all the languages that we speak here.
In a community as diverse as the 20th District, no candidate will be able to win next week's primary along racial lines. Political observers say the district's voters are made up of about one-third Asian-American, one-third white, and one-third black and Latino. Candidate S.J. Jung says what the community needs is unity.