Flushing will have a new face in the state Assembly come January, and she wasted no time paying tribute to her supporters.
Grace Meng thanked the Flushing Democratic Club at a meeting Sunday for its efforts on her behalf and pledged to champion senior issues, education and quality of life in Flushing when she takes office.
“Flushing has not really changed for the better in the last 40 years,” she said, noting the community is where 12 percent of the borough’s workforce works, but the area has lost parking spaces.
Meng, who won the seat held by her father Jimmy Meng for one term, took the election with 86 percent of the vote. Incumbent Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D−Flushing) drew 14 percent of the vote after losing to Meng by 14 points in the primaries and not campaigning. The Democrats had no Republican challenger, but Meng said she was not taking anything for granted Nov. 4.
“I’m sort of a pessimistic person,” she said. “It’s not over till it’s over. I wasn’t celebrating until 9:30 [p.m.].”
Meng was not ready to promise any specific proposals yet, but to help with the looming state budget deficit she indicated she would favor a resurrection of the commuter tax. While critics say it would discourage people from seeking employment in the city, Meng said deterring people from outside would help city residents.
“Selfishly, as someone from the five boroughs, that’s good for us because the jobs should be given to us first,” she said.
Democratic District Leader Julia Harrison, who helped Meng in her race, also warned of tough fiscal times ahead.
“If we don’t stick together and demand what we think is the right thing to demand, we’re going to go right up the creek,” she said. “The days of being polite are over. If you want something done, you’re going to have to fight for it.”
Meng also got congratulations from U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D−Bayside), who visited the meeting to talk about the economy.
“It’s a hard job to run against the establishment,” he said of Meng’s successful primary campaign against Young without the backing of the Queens Democratic machine. “But once you’re there and you do the right thing, everybody gets to know you.”
He said his mother came to the United States from Poland without knowing any English and compared his situation to Meng’s, whose mother emigrated from China.
“It’s not so unusual for the child of an immigrant to hold elected office,” he said.
Ackerman praised the Democrats’ advances at the state and federal level in the election but warned about complacency.
“We’ve done a job turning the whole place blue,” he said. “Now we have to work.”
Ackerman, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, said he would support a bailout bill for struggling American auto makers if it included fuel efficiency requirements. He said the American companies and investors have behaved foolishly over the past decades by rewarding executives for short−term stock gains rather than long−term strategy.
“Here in America, you buy stock on Monday and if you haven’t doubled your money on Tuesday, you vote to throw the whole board of directors out,” he said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@tim
©2008 Community News Group
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