By Rebecca Henely
In a night to honor Asian-American and Pacific Islander community members and culture, City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) named Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) Person of the Year at the Bethzatha Church of God in Elmhurst.
“Peter Koo is quite an amazing man,” Koslowitz said. “He has tirelessly fought for the needs of his community.”
Koo, a native of Shanghai who served on business organizations and Community Board 7 before being elected to the Council in 2009, said he was honored and humbled to receive the award.
“We Asian Americans have come a long way in America,” Koo said.
He was one of five honorees at Koslowitz’s celebration last Thursday, which she is planning to hold annually. The festivities, which were held at the church, at 85-20 57th Ave., featured traditional Korean drumming, fan dancing and a contemporary, Bollywood-influenced performance.
During the event Koslowitz also told 100 people or so people there to vote for state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), the youngest Asian American elected to the state Legislature, in the upcoming election for the congressional district that now belongs to outgoing U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside).
“We’re going to make history,” Koslowitz said.
If elected, Meng would be the first Asian-American congresswoman from New York.
The new district includes Bayside, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale and parts of Flushing, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Elmhurst.
In response, Meng commended Koslowitz for reaching out to the many diverse parts of her district and different populations in Queens.
“Karen is the ultimate bridge-builder,” Meng said.
The other honorees included Korean business leader Peter Park, Forest Hills High School Assistant Principal Sally Li Young, Guyanese community activist Latchman Budhai and 11-year-old Lynne Wang, a star swimmer from PS 196 in Forest Hills who was born without part of her left arm.
“You acknowledge all the achievements that all Asian Americans have contributed to this great country,” Young said of Koslowitz.
Koo congratulated the other honorees for their contributions to their communities. He said while Asian Americans’ circumstances have improved over the years both economically and on the social ladder, they still have to work hard to get into elected office.
“We don’t have a political voice yet,” Koo said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.