By Alex Robinson
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) convincingly won re-election Tuesday night against her challenger S.J. Jung after a hard-fought campaign to hold onto her seat after seven terms in office.
With more than 85 percent of the vote counted, Stavisky had 58.5 percent of the ballots cast to 41.4 percent for Jung, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press.
The two squared off for District 16, which is 53 percent Asian, 23 percent white and 17 percent Hispanic, according to census data, and includes parts of Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Elmhurst, Woodside, Rego Park and Forest Hills.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) introduced Toby Stavisky at her victory party in a Flushing restaurant, saying “she has just won by a landslide.”
Stavisky began by thanking her team, including fellow Democrats Meng, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Councilman Peter Koo and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz.
“I will do the best I can to make sure my constituents get everything they deserve,” she said.
Two blocks away at the Sheraton Flushing, Jung told a roomful of dejected campaign volunteers that they may have lost, but they gained respect.
“Ours was a true grassroots campaign,” he said. “We didn’t rely on outside political forces. We should keep our chins up for what we accomplished.”
Stavisky vowed to fight for the Women’s Equality Agenda, the Dream Act and an increase in the minimum wage. Jung, a Flushing activist and business owner, put together a campaign that drew few endorsements to take on Stavisky, a veteran senator with Democratic Party support. The Korean immigrant and activist campaigned mainly in the Asian community, where the base of his support is.
Stavisky is also popular among her Asian constituents and was supported by her ally, state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who was the first Korean American elected to the state Legislature.
The race was fairly civil compared to the one in the district next door between state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and former city Comptroller John Liu.
Throughout the campaign, Jung refused to criticize Stavisky, who in turn declined to comment on her opponent’s campaign other than to say he was fairly quiet on women’s issues.
Jung stepped down as president of Flushing’s MinKwon Center for Community Action in May to challenge the incumbent, who followed suit and launched her own campaign within days of Jung’s announcement, rolling out endorsements from the party brass.
Using the help of an army of volunteers and interns, Jung has announced a number of policy priorities, which include cleaning up Albany, revitalizing the Flushing waterfront and raising the minimum wage.
Stavisky ran 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.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.