Flushing lawmaker Ron Kim joins the crowded field in public advocate election

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Assemblyman Ron Kim announced his candidacy Monday for New York City Public Advocate to succeed the outgoing Letitia James next year.

The assemblyman announced in a released statement that he’s running to transform the Office of Public Advocate, citing the crushing $35 billion student debt crisis and vowing to put people over corporations.

“And while mega-corporations get billions in handouts, and predatory financial companies continue to turn profits on the backs of working- and middle-class New Yorkers, politicians never address the core problem: our system prioritizes corporations over people,” Kim said.

Kim added, “When politicians give $3 billion to Amazon, but say we don’t have money to fix our crumbling subways, it’s time to put people over corporations.”

Kim, the first and only Korean-American ever elected to the New York State Legislature, is serving his fourth term as New York State Assemblyman representing the 40th district, which includes portions of Whitestone, Flushing, College Point and Murray Hill in Queens.

A longtime resident of Flushing, Kim was first elected to the Assembly in 2012 and has been re-elected three times since.

As assemblyman, Kim has advocated against taxpayer subsidies to corporations and is a vocal proponent of relieving New Yorkers from the crushing burden of debt. He often cites his own experience watching his parents’ challenges as mom-and-pop store owners as inspirations for his career in public service and for his people-focused policy agenda.

In October 2018, he organized more than 20 labor groups, nonprofits and community leaders to call for a one-time cancellation of student debt and outlined the economic rationale and financial mechanisms for how it could be executed.

He authored a white paper, “Disrupting Student Debt” which showed how student debt and corporate giveaways prevent families and individuals from climbing the economic ladder and perpetuate economic disparity.  

Kim introduced legislation to create the first-in-the-nation Office of Financial Resilience, which would work to reverse the cycle of debt under which so many New York Families are living.

He was among the first elected officials in Queens to speak out against giving taxpayer subsidies to Amazon to lure them to New York City. On Nov. 9, he published an op-ed in The New York Times, which pointed out the inequities of subsidizing one of the world’s wealthiest companies and warned of the consequences of locating a massive corporation like Amazon in New York.

The lawmaker has also worked to pass legislation that expands access to small loans and seed funding for micro-businesses, and sought to create a fund in the 2017 State Budget to help small businesses in New York comply with increasingly burdensome regulations.

Kim graduated from the Riverdale Country Day School in 1997, where he was captain of the football and track teams. He earned a B.A. from Hamilton College, and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College.

In 2004, he was accepted as a National Urban Fellow where he advised the Chief Education Office of the Chicago Public Schools. Ron has devoted his career to public service, working in various capacities on the city, state and federal levels of government.

Kim lives in Flushing with his wife, Alison, and his three daughters, Olive, Hazel and Autumn.

More than a dozen individuals in New York City have already announced their intentions to run for public advocate. James was elected as New York state’s attorney general, and must resign the public advocate office on Jan. 1.

After Mayor Bill de Blasio receives James’ resignation, he will declare a special election for the office, which should occur within three months. The special election is nonpartisan, meaning that all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, must secure petitions to run on an independent line of their own making. The parties may endorse a candidate, but cannot formally nominate anyone.

The special election winner will take office as public advocate upon the results being certified, and will remain in office for the remainder of 2019. A second election for public advocate will take place in November to decide who will serve out the remainder of James’ term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

Robert Pozarycki contributed to this report.

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