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Koo rolls out his plans for the future of Flushing

City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) at his inaugural address Sunday vowed to work with politicians on both sides of the aisle to make the borough more affordable for a middle class he said is being squeezed out of New York City.

“Political parties must put aside their differences,” Koo said. “We must concentrate on doing what’s right for our great city.”

Koo was cheered by more than 400 residents and numerous government officials who crammed into Flushing Town Hall for the newly elected councilman’s inaugural ceremony Sunday afternoon. The Flushing resident had already been officially sworn in Dec. 30 to the Council that now includes five Republicans — the party’s largest minority in a decade.

He will represent the 20th Council District, which includes Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale and Whitestone.

City Comptroller John Liu, who praised Koo at Sunday’s ceremony, was the district’s previous representative.

“We have elected a person that will do wonders not only for the 20th Council District, but for all of the city,” Liu said.

As his wife, Bernadette, and children, Timothy and Tiffany, looked on, Koo outlined an ambitious agenda for his first term, including an emphasis on lower taxes, support for small businesses and seniors, adding police officers and improving education.

Saying the “government is taxing people out of the city,” Koo said he wants city officials to make life easier for the middle class — especially middle-class business owners. Koo, who founded and is the CEO and president of the Starside Pharmacy chain, said he understands well the pressures local business owners face.

“More must be done to protect our seniors,” Koo went on to say. “They deserve to enjoy their golden years, but it’s difficult with rising taxes and health care costs. There should never be talk of closing senior centers or reducing Meals on Wheels.”

Koo said he plans to advocate for federal stimulus dollars going toward filling “the 6,000 police positions we’ve lost since 2002.”

Flushing’s new councilman promised he would emphasize education during his tenure and be an advocate for smaller class sizes.

Numerous politicians and community leaders lined up to lend their support to Koo, who immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in 1971, including state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Borough President Helen Marshall, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan).

Padavan praised Koo’s philanthropic efforts, including a recent $100,000 donation to LaGuardia Community College and 20 wheelchairs to Elmhurst Hospital.

“Peter is my friend and no greater honor can be bestowed on any of us,” Padavan said.

Meng said Koo has long been a community supporter who has worked hard to better the local neighborhoods.

“Peter Koo is someone who embodies and defines what a public servant is,” Meng said. “He helped people when no one was noticing.”

Marshall echoed Koo’s sentiment about reaching across the aisle to accomplish political goals.

“You’re of a different party, but I’m going to work just as hard with you,” Marshall said.

Christina Santucci contributed reporting for this article.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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