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Queens Chronicle

Race for Meng’s seat keeps growing

Two more Democrats enter, another is expected to announce soon

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:30 am

Voters are going to need a scorecard to keep track of all the candidates vying for Grace Meng’s Assembly seat.

Added to the list of Democrats who announced their candidacies over the last week are retired librarian Ethel Chen and Korean publisher Myungsuk Lee. Democrat Yen Chou, 49, who lost to Peter Koo in the 2009 City Council election, is expected to throw her hat in the ring later this week. She owns a tutoring academy.

The newly created 40th Assembly District is primarily Asian and the number of candidates running reflects that mix. So far, there are three announced Chinese candidates and three Korean.

Chen, 72, previously ran for the City Council in 1997 and 2001. She has been active in Flushing Democratic politics for years.

Lee, 49, moved here from South Korea 30 years ago. He is the owner of the Korean American Times and president of the Federation of Korean American Associations of Greater New York and was recently appointed to Community Board 7.

At a press conference Monday at the Kum Gang San restaurant, Lee said he was qualified for the Assembly seat because he has worked hard for the benefit of others in Flushing. “I have worked on the New Year’s parade and festivals,” he said “Everyone knows me and respects me as a true community leader.”

Lee acknowledged that he expected to be endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party, but in the end Ron Kim, 33, got the nod. Kim previously ran for the City Council, but pulled out “for party unity” prior to the Democratic primary in 2009.

Kim, who most recently worked for The Parkside Group, a political consulting and lobbying firm, has taken a leave of absence. He previously worked extensively in city and state government.

Lee said people encouraged him to run, including city Comptroller John Liu. When the endorsement didn’t come, the candidate said he was shocked but added, “It’s politics,” and vowed to support Meng in her run for the newly created 6th Congressional District seat.

“I’m not making excuses or blaming anyone,” he said. “I’m determined and I won’t give up.”

Lee said his focus is on helping small business owners and favors reducing small business taxes and cost of loans as well as creating jobs. He is also concerned about healthcare for seniors and wants to create jobs and programs for them.

One of his supporters is Angela Chung, president of the Korean Women’s Association in New York. “I’ve known him for 30 years and he is the best candidate,” Chung said. “He has done a lot for the community.”

For the first time in many years, there will also be a Republican primary for the race on Sept. 13. Already announced for the seat are:

• Sunny Hahn, 60, an activist in Flushing’s Korean community, who previously worked for the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Commission on Human Rights in New York.

• Hank Yeh, 60, a management consultant who is affiliated with the Chinese American Voters Association and the Northeast Queens Republican Club.

• Phil Gim, 60, a small business consultant and former postal worker.

And there may be more candidates. Two other Democratic names being mentioned are Isaac Sasson, 71, a retired scientist and Lottery winner, who previously ran for the City Council in 2003 and 2009 and the state Senate in 2010, and John Scandalios, 46, who owns a comic book store and is a former engineer.

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