By Alex Robinson
While S.J. Jung and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) both reject the notion of ethnic politics, it may have a significant impact on the race for the 16th Senate District.
Stavisky’s bizarrely shaped district was recently redistricted in 2012 so that it is now 53 percent Asian, 23 percent white and 17 percent Hispanic, according to census data. The district includes parts of Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Rego Park and Forest Hills.
Jung, a Korean-American activist and small business owner, has emerged as a leader in the immigrant community and recently traveled to Washington to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
Stavisky is also popular among her Asian constituents and has received the support of state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who was the first Korean-American elected to the state Legislature.
Jung stepped down as president of Flushing’s MinKwon Center for Community Action in May to challenge the seven-term incumbent, who followed suit and launched her own campaign within days of Jung’s announcement.
At her own kick-off, Stavisky rolled out a long list of elected officials and community leaders to endorse her right off the bat.
Neither candidate has been willing to criticize their opponent, and there is little in terms of their policy that differs.
Jung has said he respects what Stavisky has done for the community, but that it is time for new leadership to boost his priorities to the forefront. Stavisky has refused to comment on her opponent’s campaign except to say he has been fairly quiet on the Women’s Equality Act.
Using the help of an army of volunteers and interns, Jung has rolled out a number of policy priorities, which include cleaning up Albany, revitalizing the Flushing waterfront and raising the minimum wage.
Stavisky is running on her record as a state legislator and has said that, if re-elected, she will work toward passing the Dream Act, the Women’s Equality Act and campaign finance reform.
The incumbent has won support from a large number of elected officials, including U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Working Families Party, which endorsed Jung in his race for City Council in 2009, has thrown its weight behind Stavisky this time around.
Jung received a nod from lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wu a week before the primary, but has not received endorsements from other prominent elected officials.
The two are neck-and-neck in fund-raising, but Jung has far outspent Stavisky to date. The incumbent now has $170,000 in hand, while Jung has $90,000.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.