Julie Won, one of the 19 candidates running for the City Council District 26 seat, was one of the top fundraisers in the crowded race, raising more than $68,000 less than three months after announcing her candidacy.
Won, a self-proclaimed technology change agent and member of Community Board 2, officially announced her campaign last October. Won’s campaign received donations from nearly 700 individuals, with 100 in-district donors, prior to the January filing deadline — meaning she may qualify for the maximum amount of matching funds, a program administered by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB).
Won told QNS she’s particularly humbled to receive support from her Korean American community members, with 48 percent of her donors identifying as Korean American. Overall, 70 percent of her donors identified as Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Additionally, Won noted 25 percent of donors are either students, unemployed or retired.
“I am nearly speechless at the outstanding generosity of our community. It is not lost on me that this campaign is backed by folks in urgent need of real representation. I do not take that responsibility lightly,” Won said.
To qualify for the program, candidates must raise at least 75 contributions from their district’s residents and $5,000 in match-eligible funds. They can then receive $8 for every eligible dollar they raise. Candidates must also meet individual contribution limits and not take money from corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships.
Won emphasized she’s running a grassroots campaign, and isn’t accepting donations from lobbyists, real estate developers, fossil fuel companies or police unions.
Won said her social media and digital marketing savvy has helped her reach more community members during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
She’s now focused on connecting with voters either in-person, through phone banks, Zoom and other online digital outlets.
When Won announced her candidacy to replace long-time City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is term-limited and announced he is running for Queens borough president, she emphasized that she is running with the hopes of becoming the first ever Korean American to serve on the City Council.
She was endorsed by several community leaders, including co-founder of Queens Together Jonathan Forgash and long-time Sunnyside resident and Families for Safe Streets activist Roz Gianutsos. Won is also endorsed by the New York Pan Asian Democratic Club.
“I am in this race to be an unrelenting champion for the working people of Queens,” Won said. “I’m here to fight for small business owners and gig workers, to fight for universal housing and universal broadband. I’m in this race for every child born to an immigrant family, every little girl that might look like me, to let them know that this is their city and that they too can make the change they want to see.”
Several other candidates in the City Council District 26 race have already received their matching funds: Brent O’Leary with $106,620, Julia Forman with $48,321 and Lorenzo Brea with $65,573. The next round of matching funds will be distributed on Feb. 16.