With so many candidates running for the 40th Assembly seat in Flushing, Ron Kim is hoping to align himself with residents over an issue that affects everyone’s stomach —accessible food from supermarkets.
During a press conference Tuesday morning outside the now defunct Key Food in the Lindenview Shopping Center at 25-03 Parsons Blvd., Kim said the state can do more to help struggling businesses exist and even expand. He was joined by members of Local 1500, UFCW grocery workers, who endorsed him.
Pat Purcell, assistant to the president of the local, said that full-service grocery stores “provide good jobs, good food and promote good health in the communities they serve.” Purcell added that when a store closes, the entire community suffers.
He said the union endorses Kim because “he has vision” and that he will “help solve problems that affect everyone.”
The Key Food closed in June, although its lease doesn’t run out until the end of the year, and refused to sublease. The Queens Chronicle broke the story in June and reported last week that the property owner said he is committed to keeping the space as a supermarket.
Meanwhile, many area seniors who don’t drive or don’t have reliable means of public transportation are left with few shopping options.
Kim said the state should prioritize funding that would assist in retaining grocery stores and develop new ones in underserved areas. “Under our current budget constraints, public-private partnerships are a crucial avenue for new investments in our local communities,” Kim said. “We should work together to make sure that this Key Food is replaced by a mainstream supermarket to serve the whole community.”
The candidate said he had little information on the Key Food situation and would reach out for answers.
Purcell said he believes the landlord wants more money for the site “and doesn’t consider the needs of the community. I hope they don’t end up with another CVS or Walgreens.”
Kim interjected that “profit and social responsibility” should go hand in hand when looking out for the best interests of the shopping community.
Mitchell Linden Civic Association Co-President Arlene Fleishman did not attend the press conference but offered the following statement: “There are over 3,500 residents in the Mitchell-Linden community who have limited access to supermarkets in the area. We call upon the landlord of the property to consider the need of the community by working with us and state government, regarding future use of the space.”
Kim, 30, last worked as Gov. David Paterson’s regional representative in the Mayor’s Office and has been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party. Other Democrats running for the seat that will be vacated by Grace Meng whether or not she’s elected to Congress include Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, Myungsuk Lee and Martha Flores Vazquez.
Republicans running are Phil Gim, who was endorsed by the county party, and Sunny Hahn.