By Connor Adams Sheets
Xueqiao Gao, 18,of Flushing woke up at 4 a.m. Tuesday to prepare for the long day of volunteer campaigning for Republican City Council candidate Peter Koo she had ahead of her. She worked until 9 p.m. Tuesday night in front of Flushing’s Taiwan Center to ensure people voted for the man she felt so enthusiastic about.0
“We talk about his story. A lot of people haven’t decided whether to vote for Peter Koo or Yen Chou,” she said, “so they talk to me and I try to change their minds.”
Her efforts seem to have paid off in the end, as Koo captured John Liu’s (D-Flushing) seat Tuesday with 49.60 percent of the votes, or 8,081 votes, edging out Democrat Yen Chou, who received 44.67 percent of the votes or 7,278 votes, according to unofficial results.
The win by Koo, the Chinese-born founder of a chain of Flushing drugstores, represents a marked shift toward the right in the makeup of the Queens Council delegation, as he is now one of three Queens Republicans in the body, along with Eric Ulrich of Ozone Park, who reclaimed his seat Tuesday night and Dan Halloran of Auburndale who won his first term on the Council.
“It’s very exciting, we’re very happy here. The crowd is very excited,” Koo said late Tuesday night after finding out he had won. “I told the crowd it’s not my win, it is a win for the whole community.”
Democrat S.J. Jung withdrew from the race after losing the primary to Chou, but still attracted 4.08 percent of the vote as a Working Family Party’s candidate on the ballot, which may have dealt Chou a major blow. Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou got 1.66 percent of the vote.
If she had won, Chou, the Chinese-born former aide to Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and director of a tutoring company whose campaign platform focused in large part on education, would have been one of the first two Asian-American woman to sit on the Council, joining Margaret Chin, who won the District 1 Council seat Tuesday in a landslide.
Koo plans to focus on helping senior citizens and children.
“My plan is to take one or two days off, then have a meeting between all the community leaders to have a roundtable discussion and discuss what’s good for our community,” he said.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.