State Assemblyman Ron Kim on Friday endorsed Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City.
Together, Yang and Kim toured the biggest food pantry in Queens — La Jornada, located at 133-36 Roosevelt Ave. in Flushing, which has fed 10,000 families each week during the COVID-19 crisis.
Kim, who is a representative for New York’s 40th Assembly District and the first and only Korean-American ever elected to the New York State Legislature, said he is proud to endorse Yang, who “champions bold policies that will lift countless New Yorkers out of poverty.”
“The pandemic has laid bare the policy failures that have further dehumanized the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Too many of my neighbors are suffering and it’s all the more egregious when so much wealth resides in this city,” said Kim, who is known as a progressive anti-poverty champion. “From cash relief, to a People’s Bank, to Borough Bucks, to supporting a caring economy, I know Andrew will ensure New York City’s recovery is both robust and inclusive. It’s what my constituents deserve.”
Yang thanked Kim for his leadership and endorsement, saying he was honored to be standing beside his friend, who serves as an inspiration for those who are committed to eradicating deep poverty in New York City.
“It pains me that right outside these doors, New Yorkers have been forming a mile-long line just to have enough food to feed themselves and their families,” Yang said. “As mayor, I plan on giving struggling New Yorkers a guaranteed basic income and small businesses the resources they need to thrive in this city. New York is ready for bold solutions, not incremental changes, to get out of this crisis. With Ron by my side, we will move New York City forward.”
Additionally, Yang noted that one of the things that he would be most proud of is if his mayoral campaign activates the Asian-American community of New York City politically.
“The reality is Asian-Americans vote in New York City on lower levels than other groups. And that is something that I would love to change,” Yang said. “I believe this campaign can help change it. And I think having leaders like Ron Kim endorsing the campaign will be tremendously helpful. My campaign is going to invest in the Asian-American community here in New York City, and let them know that this race is important.”
The conference was briefly interrupted by a protester, as public library security tried to remove the man while urging him to put on his mask. Although the security officer told Yang they had called the police, Yang and Kim told them not to call the NYPD.
Yang, who moved to New York City 25 years ago, won a national following (#YangGang) as a presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary. He officially launched his campaign for mayor on Wednesday, Jan. 13, his 46th birthday, in a two-and-a-half minute video.
In the video, Yang wears a “Forward New York” mask, as he walks the streets, promising to create a guaranteed minimum income, expand access to high-speed internet, “take back control of our subway,” and create a People’s Bank, “so it stops being so expensive to be poor.”
During the conference, Yang said he would work to alleviate poverty in the city, guarantee a minimum income, and build an economy that works for people in the city.
“So many people were left behind even before the pandemic. But the pandemic has magnified and amplified those inequities to levels that are unconscionable,” Yang said. “If you look around our city, you see scenes that should shock our conscience. It does not have to be this way. This is a dangerous pandemic, but we owe it to ourselves to take care of our people then accelerate our comeback from COVID.”
In response to the current vaccine protocols and what he would do to help the people of New York, Yang said he thinks that many New Yorkers are frustrated by the vaccination process so far and wants the state and city to get on the same page.
“As mayor, I will be working closely with the state to make sure that New Yorkers are not frustrated,” said Yang, who wants to target the most vulnerable population.
In regards to alleviating living conditions in NYCHA housing without heat, gas and water, Yang said he would invest millions of dollars in these complexes by activating resources (though he didn’t elaborate on what kind of resources) to make them “safer and modern.”
When asked about his position on defunding the NYPD and how he intends to work with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Yang said that the NYPD could use a civilian commission who is a bit more independent in culture and background mirrored after the federal level, where there is a civilian head of the military.
“I think that most New Yorkers would agree that we have been underinvesting in our communities for years and generations at multiple levels,” Yang said. “There are so many ways that we should be investing resources, that I think most New Yorkers would agree that we have been overinvesting in measures that may not actually make us safer.”
After visiting the site in Flushing where a prostitute leaped to her death from an apartment building during an NYPD operation sting in 2017, Yang talked about migrant workers who work in the sex industry that have been harassed by the NYPD.
“We need to decriminalize sex work here in New York City to show a model for what the better approach is. Right now, these workers are being pushed into the shadows and being killed, mistreated, systematically marginalized,” Yang said. “Their pain is being ignored by our city and our community. And we can and must do better.”
The New York City mayoral primary is in June. Yang joins a list of candidates that includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Civilian Complaint Review Board chair Maya Wiley, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Dianne Morales, and several others in the running to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio.