Flushing forum set for Assembly race

Michelle Liu of a Chinese-American advocacy group speaks at announcement of an Aug. 16 candidate forum as members of the community and the MinKwon Center look on. Photo by Joe Anuta
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A Korean nonprofit specializing in outreach to new immigrants is set to host a candidate forum Thursday for the crowded Flushing state Assembly race.

“One of the things we thought we would see is excitement and interest in these particular races from the community,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the Flushing-based MinKwon Center for Community Action.

And with seven candidates vying for the spot, that is exactly what the center found, he said.

The district encompasses most of downtown Flushing. It was recently created as part of the redistricting process to be what is known as a majority Asian seat, and bears similarities to the district currently represented by Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who is running for Congress.

The primary is set for Sept. 13, and the general election for Nov. 6, according to the state Board of Elections.

In the Democratic Party primary, the field includes former librarian and one-time Assembly candidate Ethel Chen, one-time City Council candidate Yen Chou, Queens Democratic Party-backed Ron Kim, Korean newspaper owner Myungsuk Lee and Flushing District Leader Martha Flores-Vazquez.

The Republican primary includes businessman Phil Gim and activist Sunny Hahn.

The forum is set to be held in the auditorium of the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library, at 41-17 Main St., at 7 p.m., and moderators from the MinKwon center promised hard-hitting and incisive questions directed toward each of the hopefuls.

The center is hosting the forum as part of an initiative, known as 2012 Your Voice Your Vote, which is designed to engage residents in government.

“This candidate forum is really part of a larger campaign that the MinKwon Center is running,” Choi said.

The center is also holding voter registration sessions, organizing voter mobilization efforts and engaging in voter protection measures, which includes monitoring polling sites to ensure no voters are discriminated against, in addition to educating voters with candidate forums.

The seat in question is unique because there is no incumbent running for the slot. With the newly drawn lines, Meng would likely have run as the de facto incumbent if she had not embarked on a bid for Congress, but instead several people moved in to fill the vacuum left in her absence.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 8:43 pm, August 15, 2012
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