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Paterson staffer joins race

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Former Queens liaison to Gov. David Paterson Ron Kim officially launched a campaign for the soon−to−be vacated seat of City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) last week, making him the seventh candidate to register for what is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic political races in the city.

Kim, a Flushing native with several years of political experience under his belt, said while he understands that by joining the race he is entering a crowded room, he expects his background and record will bring him to the front of the pack.

“The one thing that really kind of distinguishes me is that I’m a third generation Flushing resident. I chose to come back,” Kim said. “Flushing is often a transient neighborhood for many families. But I feel I have a moral obligation to the community and I’m going to bring that passion to City Hall.”

Liu, who has served as councilman for District 20 for the last eight years, announced earlier this year that he is running for city comptroller — opening up the floodgates to the politically active Flushing community.

Six Democrats have now registered their campaigns with the city Campaign Finance Board: Kim, community activist S.J. Jung, education advocate Yen Chou, Democratic District Leader James Wu, Holly Civic Association President Isaac Sasson and 27−year−old Constantine Kavadas. Flushing businessman Peter Koo is also campaigning for the seat as the only registered Republican candidate thus far.

Prior to working for Paterson, Kim was a policy analyst on infrastructure and economic development issues for the Council’s Transportation and Small Business committees. He also has served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the city Department of Buildings and Small Business Services Department.

Kim said because of this experience, he would be able to hit the ground running if elected to Liu’s seat.

“I don’t need training to be in office,” he said. “You have to know how to take care of our vulnerable communities and you have to do it by finding a way to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. I feel very strongly that I have that access.”

Kim is also the second Korean American to enter the race alongside Jung. If either were elected, they would be the first Korean American in history elected to the Council in the city.

The two may not be alone either. Korean−American community leader and longtime Liu Chief of Staff John Choe told TimesLedger Newspapers Monday that he is also weighing a run.

Kim said although he is proud of his heritage, it is not the defining aspect of his campaign.

“I think the most important thing to me is the district,” Kim said. “I believe Flushing transcends any race. I’m not just running to represent one ethnicity, I’m running to represent all of the constituents of the district.

District 20 encompasses the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights and Auburndale and a portion of Whitestone.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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