By Gina Martinez
Alison Tan, wife of Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), surprised many when she announced her run for City Council at Community Board 7’s May meeting.
The managing director of Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group has no political experience, but plans to challenge two-term Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) in the September primaries. She has listed quality-of-life issues as her main platform.
The 20th District covers Flushing, Auburndale and part of Whitestone.
Tan has lived in Flushing with her husband for six years. She said raising two daughters in the area inspired her to run and fix issues she believes Koo won’t address.
“I have friends who have had to move out of the district because living here is unbearable,” she said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers. “Koo is not a strong advocate, Koo doesn’t fight for quality-of-life issues. Our district deserves better. All you have to do is look around us and you can see how he failed. He’s been councilman for eight years, and what do we have to show for it? Flushing is more polluted than ever, we don’t have the resources to survive, we deserve a better public advocate in City Hall.”
As for Koo, he has welcomed the competition from Tan and said he has been endorsed by her husband.
Tan said working in the private sector as a manager has prepared her for City Council. Tan was responsible for billions of dollars in development and was held accountable for her performance.
The Ackman-Ziff website says Tan has handled over $7 billion in commercial real estate capital market transactions.
Tan said she is not relying on endorsements from local politicians and is not using her husband’s name to get ahead.
“I’m proud of who my husband is,” she said, “but I’m a strong, capable and independent woman. I’m not just a wife. In some of the news announcements, people referred to me as Alison Tan Kim, but I’ve never used that last name. It’s not my legal name. I do feel there is a gender bias, and that’s why we need more women in politics.”
Tan picked the City Council because the majority of quality-of-life issues can be addressed on a local level.
“I have two daughters growing up in Flushing and I want them to grow up in a healthy environment,” she said. “I’ve lived here for six years and I’ve watched the neighborhood deteriorate. I’m sick of the pollution, lack of sanitation, and over crowding.
“The stakes for me are high. I don’t want to raise two kids with limitations, with a lack of resources.”
Tan said she anticipates a tough race. She said she has the support of fellow CB 7 board members who are happy she is running and fighting for community.
“The reason I chose to make the announcement at the community board meeting is because I wanted to first and foremost et the board members that I’ve sat next to for the last few years know,” she said. “I wanted to tell them I want to protect the community’s quality of life, improve the parks where our children play, address airport noise, development. I was encouraged by board members to run.”
Her most important endorsement comes from her husband, who she said has been an inspiration to her.
“He’s been very supportive,” she said. “He just wants me to bring forth my voice and be a champion for Flushing.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart