Hopefuls seek niche in race

Leaders in the South Asian community (l. photo) pose with Yen Chou (c.), and the head of a union (r. photo) poses with Ron Kim. Photo (l.) courtesy Yen Chou and (r.) by Joe Anuta
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As the Flushing state Assembly race reached its final stages, some of the candidates took to the streets to outline specific points in their platforms and to tout endorsements from influential groups.

On the Democratic side, Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, Martha Flores-Vazquez, Ron Kim and Myungsuk Lee are involved in a primary and will face either Phil Gim or Sunny Hahn, who are involved in a Republican primary.

Among the latest developments, Kim, backed by the Queens Democratic Party, discussed his support of a minimum wage bill that has passed the Assembly in May but is stuck in the state Senate.

“Raising the minimum wage is one way forward of reviving the American Dream,” Kim told a news conference he called Friday.

The bill would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 in January 2013, and then tie that wage to what is known as the consumer price index, an index created by the U.S. Department of Labor that shows how much a consumer pays for certain goods and how much that number has changed over the last century.

The idea would be to peg the minimum wage to inflation so salaries would rise with costs, according to Kim, who added that if wages had kept up with inflation, minimum wage would be hovering around $11 an hour.

Kim, a former associate of The Parkside Group who has now hired the firm as his consultant, has repeatedly said he is a supporter of small business, and cited studies that show increasing the minimum wage is better for companies and expands the economy.

He also supports city issues, like a living wage bill and paid sick leave.

Many of these issues have come under fire from conservatives and business advocacy groups.

Also at the news conference was Kyle Bragg, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, which has endorsed Kim in the race. Kim has also been endorsed by the nonprofit Korean Americans for Political Advancement.

One of Kim’s opponents also had a news conference later in the day.

Chou received the endorsement of several South Asian leaders, her campaign said.

She said in a statement that she looks forward to representing the needs of the community should she be elected to office.

But Chou was also cited by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics for failing to file a financial disclosure statement, the commission announced last Thursday.

The commission requires candidates who run for state office to fill out a statement disclosing certain monetary assets, income and campaign contributions, Chou’s camp said.

A spokesman for Chou said they were not aware she had to file, and that as of Friday afternoon the Assembly hopeful was in compliance.

Some of the ins and outs of the race were available to news outlets in other languages. Ethel Chen, for example, has had a few press conferences for the Chinese media only.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 2:28 am, September 6, 2012
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Reader feedback

Myra from Flushing says:
It seems logical that we should elect someone to the legislative body who abides by the law. By failing to file a financial disclosure statement, Chou failed to follow the rules. Shame on you Chou.
Sept. 7, 2012, 9:07 am

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