As the clock ticks closer to state primaries on Thursday, September 13, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running in your district. We have provided a list of candidates, who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 40
Current Position: Community activist
Personal Info: Ethel Chen has over 30 years of public service experience. She is on the advisory committee to the Queens District Attorney, president of Friends of Flushing Library, and a member of the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission. Chen was elected Democratic District Leader, appointed Democratic District Leader-at-Large, serving all of Queens for 10 years. She was an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention and served on a community board for 10 years. Chen was also a supervising librarian for the New York Public Library, and she graduated from National Taiwan University Law School. Chen also earned a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, completed graduate studies at Columbia University and has raised three sons.
Issues/Platform: Chen will bring ethical and responsible leadership to Albany, fight for small businesses, protect seniors, improve safety in the community, push for better and more available transportation and protect healthcare for everyone. She also wants to make sure storefront signs in downtown Flushing have bilingual signage to ensure safety.
Current Position: Community activist
Personal Info: In 2003 and again in 2010, Yen Chou served with then-Councilmember and current Assemblymember David Weprin as his special liaison to the community. As a public servant, she has been recognized by government leaders as the voice of the Asian community in Queens. Chou has received numerous citations and proclamations from the New York City Council, New York State Senate and United States Congress, as well as many plaques of recognition from community leaders, non-profit organizations and ethnic-based associations. It is because of these accolades that the district leaders of the Democratic Organization of Queen County selected her to become the District Leader at Large. Chou is a former high school teacher and an adjunct lecturer at Queensborough Community College. She implemented and became the director for Aim Academy in 1996. In 1999, with the support of close friends and community leaders, Chou became a local community school board member. Years later when the Department of Education re-structured and removed the community school board, Chou was appointed by Borough President Helen Marshal to sit on the Community Education Council. In 2002, Chou formed the Chinese American Parent-Student Council (CAPSC).
Issues/Platform: Chou will fight to ensure adequate funding for better roads and highways, work to expand the Health Care Act, find community-based solutions to health care needs, help businesses pool their funds and provide them with tax incentives to do so, fight to keep educators’ salaries above the national average, expand options for tax credits to businesses and work to expand the interstate system to ease the flow of transportation throughout the region, and eliminate wasteful spending on useless projects that serve the interests of lobbyists and self-serving politicians.
Personal info: Martha Flores-Vasquez has a lifelong history of serving her community and standing up to defend her community. Flores-Vasquez has served as a Democratic District Leader in Queens after winning several contested elections in her district that covers the greater Flushing community. Flores-Vazquez served as chair of the Graduate Student Council at the City University of New York and while there, she instituted and oversaw quality assurance for the Student Services Corp., a committee designed to make certain that students were fairly represented in all phases at University meetings relative to policies that affected a multicultural population at large. She also was responsible for the oversight of the audit, reconciliation and appropriations process of the yearly budget, conducted on a monthly basis. She created the Auxiliary Corporation of New York, and as vice chair of the corporation, she focused on a design that would provide opportunities to minorities in business. Flores-Vasquez has always been a civil rights leader fighting to keep several CUNY departments such as Asian Studies, Latin Studies and Black Studies open for the diverse population in New York City. Flores-Vasquez led the fight to keep tuition costs down at CUNY. Flores-Vasquez is the founder and executive director of Community Prevention for Families in Crisis. She is the recipient of many civil service and humanitarian awards such as the Butanes National Puerto Rican Parade Day Award for Economic Empowerment, as well as other notable citations and proclamations.
Issues/Platform: Flores-Vasquez is concerned with creating a safer and cleaner community and supports ensuring police manpower levels at the local level. She is an advocate for education and wants to improve our education system by ensuring proper funding and parent involvement in children’s education. Flores-Vasquez believes in increasing economic development by providing incentives for companies to come back to New York and supports the continual funding and support of programs that service the aged population. She is a staunch opponent of fracking.
Personal info: Beginning his career in public service as an aide to then-Assemblymember Mark Weprin, Ron Kim moved on to work in the Department of Buildings and the Department of Small Business Services. At the City Council, Ron worked as a policy analyst, writing and examining legislation on issues related to transportation, infrastructure and economic development. As a regional director for government and community affairs in the administrations of two New York State governors, he collaborated and worked with a varied group of state agencies, elected officials and community organizations.
Issues/Platform: Kim wants to create good, local jobs for Queens while expanding economic opportunities for the entire community, pass the New York State DREAM Act, raise New York’s minimum wage, protect seniors, improve schools, enable small businesses to grow and thrive and reform Albany. Kim will fight to protect middle class taxpayers, get New York City schools the funding they deserve and create jobs by giving small businesses incentives for hiring new workers. Kim knows that public service is about protecting the most vulnerable among us while ensuring opportunity exists for all citizens.
Current Position: Owner and publisher of Korean American Times newspaper
Personal Info: Myungsuk Lee is the CEO of the Korean American Times and board member of Community Board 7. While at Korea TV and Radio, Lee had eight years of extensive experience as both reporter and associate director, before assuming the position of executive director. After obtaining his bachelor degree at SUNY Binghamton, Lee furthered his education at Hankook University of Foreign Studies, where he went on to establish the university’s first Executive MBA Program for Korean CEOs in New York. As an active member in the Flushing community, Lee is involved in various facets of public service, even serving as president of the Korean American Association of Queens and counselor and founder of SCORE in Flushing.
Issues/Platform: Lee is dedicated to serving the public as a community leader by providing support and protection to seniors, small businesses, the immigrant and all ethnic communities. He believes small business is the backbone of the local economy and in reducing small business taxes and regulations while increasing small business loans and incentives. He wants to enact local economic development plans to create jobs and revitalize small businesses and strengthen senior centers by providing job training, enhancing meals-on-wheels, transportation and wellness opportunities. In regards to education, Lee supports more open curriculum, which encourages teacher flexibility and creativity. He supports parent associations and wants to enact programs where students can learn more and support their communities. Lee also wants to enact policies to respect and protect immigrants, create more job training and business management programs for them and increase budgets and expand policies for immigrant communities. He also wants to increase better understanding among ethnic communities through multicultural events and sports activities and enhance policies for better community relationships.
Current Position: Small business consultant
Personal info: Born to a working class family, Phil Gim is a hard-working father of four, a small business owner, a proud former member of our nation’s civil service system and a resident of Queens for over 25 years. He is a former postal worker, and was a supervisor in the 2000 and 2010 Census. He is proud that his three daughters all attend or attended New York City public schools. He’s running for the State Assembly because he wants to represent the middle-class — the hard-working families, the retirees on fixed incomes, all the people who have been forgotten during this economic crisis.
Issues/Platform: Jobs, jobs, jobs. There is no issue more important and of greater concern than our high unemployment rate and the appalling number of underemployed New Yorkers in our state. Our local economy is in dire straits and local politicians are so busy playing the blame game that they’ve forgotten why we elected them in the first place. We need to make New York a friendlier business environment so our jobs don’t move across the river, across the sound, or across an ocean. We need to stop the attacks on Wall Street firms and instead start helping Main Street businesses. We need to provide the same type of incentives for small businesses to hire that we do for larger corporations. We need more jobs in New York.
1. Make New York friendly to small businesses again: We need to encourage more mom and pop shops and neighborhood stores. Instead of huge tax breaks for corporations and sports teams, let’s channel our efforts towards small business loans and business development grants. Let’s make them simple to apply for, and let’s make is easier to start and run a small business in New York. We can start by cutting through excessive red tape and simplifying regulations.
2. A common sense rule in New York State: Sometimes our lawmakers get so bogged down with agendas and the technicalities of making laws that they lose sight of what they were working for. Every bill that goes before the legislature needs to be cut down to a realistic size that legislators can actually review before they vote on it. And let’s make them actually review the contents of a bill before they vote on it!
3. Legislators should live in glass houses: We need to declare positions in the State Assembly and the State Senate as full-time jobs and then declare that legislators are only allowed to have that one job. No more outside “consulting.” No more family members working as lobbyists. No family members should be allowed to work for businesses or non-profits that receive State funding because of a relative. And let’s enforce it.
Current Position: Community activist
Personal Info: Sunny Hahn came to the United States in 1979. She worked at an immigration brokering office in Washington, D.C. and later for National Women’s Political Caucus. After moving to Honolulu, she worked organizing the Korean immigrant community and helped Korean women who were married to American military personnel. In 1986, she came to New York and worked for the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ Queens office in Flushing as the only Asian community organizer. After retiring in 2002, she served the Korean community and the greater Flushing community. All her life, she has been an activist and a public servant.
Issues/Platform: Hahn wants to make Flushing one of the greatest cities in the world, the next “Shining City on the Hill” and the greatest destination for tourists as well as residents of New York City.
1. To organize and modernize a Flushing public transportation hub
2. To build a religious freedom monument in downtown Flushing
3. To restore RKO Keith Theater as a theater, to hold annual Asian film festival and other musical/theatrical programs like European and Peking opera, Kabuki theater, classic and pop concerts
4. To establish an entertainment/recreational district in downtown Flushing and Willets Point, which will include a casino establishment
5. To protect historic neighborhoods in Flushing by designating a historic district and a design district
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