By Connor Adams Sheets
Two of Flushing’s most influential political voices threw their support behind U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in her race to keep her seat in Washington.
City Comptroller John Liu, who served eight years as the neighborhood’s councilman, and state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) took Gillibrand on a tour of their bustling hometown before giving her their endorsements.
“I can’t wait until September so I can vote for her in the Democratic primary for United States senator and again in November,” Liu said during a news conference on 37th Avenue.
“We’re honored to endorse her today,” Meng said. “She understands the importance of investing in our next generation and we are proud and excited to endorse her.”
Beginning with brief remarks at the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library, the three lawmakers, surrounded by a gaggle of supporters, police, photographers and reporters, slowly navigated the throngs of people on Main Street.
The trio stopped first for a steamed pork bun at the famed kiosk under the Long Island Rail Road tracks, which Gillibrand ate delicately with her hands, saying “xie xie,” Chinese for “thank you,” to the cook. Gillibrand speaks Mandarin.
Next was a glance at the delicacies of Ou Jiang Supermarket, including live conch, cuttlefish and frog.
Along the way, Gillibrand stopped to greet passers-by with a “ni hao,” the Chinese for hello, and asked about their concerns, thanked police officers for their service and took photos with a young child.
It was all part of her statewide campaign for the seat she was appointed to last year after President Barack Obama surprised most observers by choosing then U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton for his secretary of state.
“I’m here with our local elected leaders to speak with people, to meet with regular people about the issues,” she said. “Flushing is extremely vibrant and exciting. … It is extremely inspiring.”
They went on to wash down the buns with iced teas from Tai Pan bakery, a quick browse at the Xinhua bookstore and concluded the jaunt with a buffet lunch at New East Cuisine Manor on 37th Avenue.
One of the main focuses of Gillibrand’s remarks was the need to provide assistance to businesses struggling in the wake of the economic crisis.
“One of the things we need to do is help small business owners get access to capital and access to loans so that they can grow their businesses and be successful,” she said. “I’m going to work with John and with Grace to bring more resources to Flushing.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.