Yen Chou takes wide-open race for Liu seat

The Brooklyn Paper

After a stormy summer of politics in Flushing, when the dust settled Tuesday Yen Chou emerged victorious, edging out Isaac Sasson and S.J. Jung to win the race for the Democratic nomination for City Councilman John Liu’s (D-Flushing) seat, unofficial election results showed.

“This campaign wasn’t based on endorsements and we proved that the people .... will win every time,” Chou’s campaign manager, Michael Olmeda, said after the victory.

Chou finished with just over 25 percent of the vote with 1,825 votes to narrowly defeat Sasson, who ended up with 22.6 percent, or 1,670 votes, and Jung, who finished with 22 percent, or 1,638 votes, the BOE said.

Choe will now face Flushing businessman Peter Koo in the general election in November and Chou said she is ready.

“After this I can do anything,” Chou said in a telephone interview. “I’m ready to start tomorrow.It’s been a long, long campaign, but this is just the beginning.”

The remaining two candidates, former Liu chief-of-staff John Choe and Democratic District Leader James Wu — arguably the most well-known of the group of five candidates — finished at the end of the pack.

Choe, who had the backing of the Queens Democratic Party, had 1,186 votes, or just 16 percent of the votes cast, while Wu took in 1,043 votes for just over 14 percent, the BOE said.

The race for Liu’s seat has been a contentious one at times. Though the vitriol has cooled in the last two weeks, allegations of racial politics and accusations that several candidates were living outside of the district were plentiful throughout the summer.

Constantine Kavadas, a 28-year-old Queens College student, was thrown off the ballot in late August after a judge found his petitions to be “permeated with fraud.”

The five remaining candidates — Choe, Chou, Jung, Sasson and Wu — each led strong campaigns heading into the primary.

Chou promised in July she would win the race, contending she brought a diversity of experience to the table the other candidates did not.

“I think I have a combination of experience,” she said in an interview at her Prince Street offices this summer. “The other candidates, some of them are businessmen, some of them are community leaders. But they all have some of this and some of that. I really have the total package.”

Chou immigrated to the United States from China in 1986 to become a teacher, but claims to have started her political career in 1999, when she was elected to the school board in District 26 with the help of her campaign treasurer, Hank Yeh.

From there Chou, now 46, went on to work as a legislative aide for Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and in 2002 formed the Chinese-American Parent Student Council, a nonprofit that mobilizes youths and parents to effect community-wide change through education.

Chou is also the director of the Aim Tutoring Academy, which provides study help to more than 1,000 students in the city area.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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