Yen Chou was the favorite in the District 20 City Council race and at around 6:30 p.m. on Election Day the Democrat was “200 percent confident of victory.”
Four hours later, however, it was Republican Peter Koo, a Flushing businessman who lost a 2008 bid for the State Senate, who had emerged as the victor by a margin of 50 to 45 percent.
A mere 803 votes separated the two main contenders – 8,081 votes to 7,278 – while the Working Families and Green Party candidates, SJ Jung and Evergreen Chou, split 934 votes. It is plausible that Jung, one of the five candidates Chou defeated in a close Democratic primary in September, cut into a chunk of the electorate that would have otherwise voted for Chou.
Regardless, election night belonged to 57-year-old Koo, after a heated campaign that centered on community and quality of life issues in the Flushing, Whitestone and Auburndale district.
“I felt like not only did I win the election, the whole community won the election because I have so many people from different groups that supported me,” Koo told The Courier the morning after his victory.
The Councilmember-elect, who owns the Starside Drugs chain of pharmacies, also credited crossover Democrats with giving him an edge, and said he plans to hold a community forum to give his diverse constituents an opportunity to voice their concerns and priorities.
“Now, politics is over, and the election is over,” Koo said. “I already told my opponents we have to unite together and do things for our community together. I need their support too.”
Koo said he will focus on job creation and easing the district’s traffic congestion from the get-go. And he applauded Mayor Bloomberg’s election night victory and said he looks forward to working with the incumbent in his third term.