By Joe Anuta
After state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) decided to run for Congress, a rush of Asian candidates have officially declared their intention to run in the new majority Asian state Assembly seat based in Flushing.
Both the major political parties in Queens endorsed candidates for the seat, created in the decennial redistricting process to consist of more than 60 percent of Asian residents. Flushing is currently represented by Meng, who could have ran for re-election but is running for Congress with the backing of the Queens Democratic Party instead.
That same party quietly endorsed Flushing resident Ron Kim for the Assembly seat on Memorial Day.
Kim is a former ombudsman for Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, but recently was hired at The Parkside Group, a political consulting firm most closely tied with the county party and Evan Stavisky, son of state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). Queens Democrats spokesman Michael Reich cited Kim’s “vast government experience and dynamic connection with the community” as the reasons why he was chosen.
The party sent out a formal notice Tuesday.
“As an immigrant and the son of a Vietnam veteran, I have seen just how much is possible in this great country. I am running for the New York state Assembly to be a fierce advocate for great schools, and good jobs for Queens,” Kim said in a statement.
The Queens GOP, on the other hand, held a news conference Monday to endorse Phil Gim for the same seat.
Gim is a small business owner and former postal worker and U.S. census supervisor, according to his campaign.
“We need to cut the red tape, bureaucracy, taxes and fees that make doing anything in this state so un-doable,” Gim said, speaking at Puccini Restaurant in Whitestone, just outside of the district he will be running in.
Earlier in the day, another Republican hopeful clad in an American flag tie announced his bid for the seat in front of Flushing High School.
Hank Yeh, a Flushing businessman and former school board member, touted his longtime presence in the Flushing community and said his No. 1 priority would be to reform the education system in the city if elected.
“I’m not an overnight political figure who popped out of nowhere,” he said.
Yeh was the former treasurer for Yen Chou, who ran unsuccessfully for the Flushing City Council seat in 2009 and is rumored to have an interest in the current Assembly race on the Democratic side.
Yeh has the backing of former state Sen. Frank Padavan, a powerful northeast Queens Republican, but Yeh did not get the endorsement of the Queens GOP, though, and was passed over along with another candidate who decided last week to run without the party’s support.
Sunny Hahn announced her bid at the Bowne House Historical Society in downtown Flushing last Thursday.
Hahn had initially sought the GOP’s blessing to run in another race: the Senate district currently represented by Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), sources said. Instead, the Queens GOP endorsed J.D. Kim.
But several members of the Queens Village Republican Club did come out to support Hahn, who said she would not be making any empty campaign promises like other politicians.
“I’m not going to say what I’m going to do,” she said. “The only thing I can promise is the truth.”
In campaign literature distributed at the news conference, Hahn said the transportation infrastructure of Flushing needs an upgrade in order for the neighborhood to prosper and the various cultural institutions need more funding.
Hahn, 60, immigrated to America from South Korea in 1979 and said new immigrants need to contribute to the country’s political discourse, which is one of the reasons why she decided to throw her hat into the ring.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.