Bayside’s Kevin Kim said he plans to capitalize on President Barack Obama’s campaign strategies by enlisting northeast Queens youths in his campaign to replace City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) this fall.
Kim, who lives in Bay Terrace, worked as a corporate lawyer before becoming U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D−Bayside) deputy director of community affairs three years ago. The Democrat, who was born in Korea and moved to Queens as a child, said his bid for the seat will include a six−week program this summer to show young people how a campaign works.
“We want our campaign to be educational,” he said. “It’s about bringing passionate people together. Obama created the wave, so why not ride it? It’s hard to get your voice out there within the city’s incumbency system, but this is an open seat. It’s important to get people involved now.”
Kim said he plans to use the president’s campaign model to bridge several generations of voters.
This fall he will face off against fellow Democrats Jerry Iannece, Paul Vallone, Steve Behar, Debra Markell and Tom Cooke, as well as Republican Dan Halloran. The seat covers Bayside, Auburndale, Little Neck, Douglaston, Whitestone, Oakland Gardens, College Point, Malba and East Flushing.
Avella, first elected in 2001, is running in this year’s mayoral race rather than seeking a third term in the Council.
Kim said working in the private sector provided him with invaluable experience, but his years with Ackerman inspired his run for elected office.
“As a lawyer, you can help one client,” he said. “But in public service, you can help a lot more people by doing the right thing.”
If elected, his priorities would be fighting overdevelopment, education and helping to create partnerships between the public and private sectors to allocate funds for community improvements amid the current economic decline, he said.
“Residential neighborhoods must stay residential,” he said. “We have to create incentives so that community facilities will locate in commercial zones, rather than residential neighborhoods.”
Kim said he would also focus on the creation of new schools in the district to fight overcrowding. He would also like to give parents of students in the community more of a voice in the city school system.
“Parents need more involvement,” he said. “The only outlet they have is to stand on the steps of City Hall and shout, but then they are ignored anyway.”
Another priority would be to promote the collaboration of city government with small businesses in the community for improvements amid the national economic downturn, citing Adopt A Highway as an example of a successful partnership between the public and private sector.
“Our resources are dwindling — that’s a reality,” he said. “I strongly believe that we need to help local businesses thrive, but local businesses also need to give back to their communities. Economists say that small businesses are the ones who will lead us out of this recession. We need to give them the right tax incentives and help them to get loans.”
He said he believes his ability to speak English, Chinese and Korean as well as his longtime residency in the community will allow him to bridge generational and ethnic gaps in the diverse district.
“My American story is so much like everyone else’s — a focus on education and taking opportunities that come from hard work and sacrifices,” he said. “I’d be able to bring together the community who has been here for a long time and those who are new to the area.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community News Group
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