Koo, Chou trade barbs over records

By Queens Courier Staff |

With the City Council District 20 race heating up, both Republican Peter Koo and Democrat Yen Chou are making final preparations for what they hope will be a victorious Election Day.

“So far so good,” said Chou, who won a close Democratic primary in a field of six candidates vying for the nomination in September. “I cannot wait for November 3 so I can celebrate my victory.”

On the other side of the aisle, Koo, a Flushing businessman who had a failed bid for State Senate against Democrat Toby Ann Stavisky in 2008, expressed optimism that this result would be different.

“The campaign is moving very well,” Koo said. “We have momentum, we’re very happy.”

Each candidate thinks their strategy will deliver them victory come Election Day, with Chou focusing on grassroots support and party unity, while Koo has focused on building coalitions.

“I can’t win this race by party lines, but I have a lot of people across party lines supporting me,” Koo said.

However, Chou countered Koo’s claims and said there is a great deal of unity in the Democratic Party behind her campaign. Chou has raised more than $440,000 and spent more than $377,000 on the campaign thus far, but raising money is not enough.

“If you’re not out there actually knocking on doors, showing the community you care, then all the money won’t help,” said Chou’s campaign manager, Michael Olmeda.

Both Chou and Koo are focused on community issues and see quality of life as the keystone issue to their campaigns.

“If you look at my background, I’m very solid on education, but in Flushing, people are really looking at quality of life issues like transportation and sanitation,” Chou said. “For example, we have a lot of people living here for generations, and a lot of newcomers, and the people here longer are happy about the new business, but they worry about the streets being dirty and the smell.”

Koo believes that he can be a unifying force in the neighborhood and help all groups of people in the diverse area.

“I’m here to help the community, to help everybody,” said Koo. “I’m here not just for the Chinese, not just for the Asians, I’m here to help everybody.”

The candidates both dedicated themselves to running a clean campaign, but each campaign had some mud to sling at its opponent.

“Who is Peter Koo, bottom line?” Olmeda said. “I think he’s been influenced by the wrong people. Businesswise he must be doing well, philanthropically, I hope he continues to donate to the neighborhood, but legislatively, I don’t think he has what it takes.”

Koo also cast some doubt on Chou’s education record.

“[Chou] claims to be an educator, but she has no license, hasn’t done much, has little experience and in the field of education she doesn’t have much support,” Koo said.