As the District 20 City Council race enters the final stretch in the Flushing area, key groups are making their alliances known.
The two major party candidates — Democrat Yen Chou and Republican Peter Koo — are consolidating support as they push for voters in the final days before the Nov. 3 general election.
The Democratic leadership of Queens gathered for tea and soup at New East Cuisine Manor in Flushing Friday afternoon to stand together in support of Chou, who surprised many observers by winning the Democratic primary over four rivals for Councilman John Liu’s seat.She captured just over 25 percent of the vote in the district, which includes Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale and parts of Whitestone.
The crowd of party luminaries included U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills); Borough President Helen Marshall; state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone); and several members of the Council and state Assembly.
They were there to ensure Democratic voters know the party stands behind Chou, according to Crowley, and to let voters know why it believes she is highly qualified for the Council.
Ackerman spoke at the event, welcoming Chou to “our club” and extolling her virtues and experience with issues such as education. Chou , who was born in China, served as a District 26 school board member, an aide to Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and is the director of a tutoring company.
“You’re one of the brightest things that’s happened to our political family in a long time,” he said. “You’ve ignited a spark.”
Koo, the Chinese-born founder of a chain of Flushing drugstores and head of the Chinese Business Association, was busy building his own coalition in Flushing Monday, accepting the support of Korean Americans for Peter Koo, a group of leaders that represents one of the largest populations in the neighborhood.
The ceremony, held in a meeting room at Flushing Mall, featured Korean business and community leaders who gave their reasons for backing Koo, often in Korean, which was then translated to English for the benefit of English- and Chinese-speaking attendees.
But whatever the language, the overall theme was clear and repeated throughout the event. The group endorsed Koo and “urges Korean voters to support” him. John Ha, executive adviser, said through a translator.
“The Korean immigrant community has been in some ways deprived of receiving city benefits,” he said and one of the main causes of this deprivation is that “we need to participate politically. We haven’t found any Korean elected officials yet. Until we have that, we need to find the right person who will have an impact on Korean residents here in Flushing.”
Several representatives of the Koo group, as well as those of the Democratic leaders who spoke on Chou’s behalf Friday, made efforts to recast the scope of the election from a referendum on race, money or party affiliation to one focusing on qualifications and issues.
“This election is not about Republican or Democrat, but about electing someone who is truly qualified to represent our community,” Dr. Sonny Lee, president of Korean Americans for Peter Koo, said.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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