by Ti-Hua Chang, AsAmNews Contributor
On Monday night APA VOICE (Asian Pacific Americans Voting and Organizing to Increase Civic Engagement) sponsored a candidate forum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for New York City’s newly redrawn 10th congressional district. The new district stretches from lower Manhattan to parts of western Brooklyn and is 25% Asian.
While the physical temperature during the forum was near sweltering, the political temperature was tepid. The eight candidates who participated are all progressive Democrats who emphasized positions like supporting the Green New Deal and affordable housing, while only disagreeing mildly on US Supreme court term limits and who would be more progressive.
Candidates polling second challenge rich lead candidate
The only direct challenges occurred when the two candidates placing second in a recent poll, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (one of three Asian Americans running) and City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera questioned the leader in the poll, Trump impeachment attorney Dan Goldman. They asked how he could represent struggling families in this diverse district since he is so rich.
Goldman responded that he was not beholden to anyone, and he would work to offer everyone in this district opportunities similar to those he enjoyed. Goldman is one heir to the Levi Strauss clothing company worth 7.29 billion. He has run the most Television ads in this contest.
Could AAPI voters influence this race?
One sign that Asian American votes count for the redrawn 10th congressional district of New York was when all the candidates at Monday’s forum were asked to name one notable Asian American. In the past, candidates for public office in New York City, despite its 17% Asian population, could only name their local dry cleaner or their single Asian employee. At this forum, all the candidates mentioned an involved Asian American from former Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta and Chinatown activist Jan Lee to Congressman Ted Lieu of California.
Forum sees big turnout
A more important indication of the growing Asian American political influence was the forum’s turnout. The turnout from both candidates and the audience was encouraging, according to June Jee of the Organization of Chinese Americans, one of the dozen-plus AAPI sponsors.
“Of the ten candidates who confirmed, two did not show up. It was a very, very hot night, but the number of people who came out was a telling sign that people are interested in who we are going to put into office,” Jee told AsAmNews.
Sponsor APA VOICE announced that 140 people attended in person and 170 people were registered on Zoom. Jee noted that the audience was diverse: Asian, Latinx, white, young and old. This mirrors the district’s composition.
The diversity of the district may explain why there were few issues addressed specifically just to the AAPI community. One example is New York City’s plan to build a 39-story mega jail in Chinatown which nearly all community leaders oppose believing the blocking of roads for construction could reduce access for customers and destroy the community already reeling from the loss of business during the pandemic and post 9/11.
Ahead of August 23rd elections, Asian vote could be key
The special primary will be held on August 23rd. Because voting New Yorkers traditionally leave the city then, voter turnout is expected to be low. Sever political observers say the Asian American vote could be significant. Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a Taiwanese – American who reparented lower Manhattan for six years, is doing far better than pundits predicted at the start of the campaigning. But several non-Asian candidates have been endorsed by different Asian American organizations including Jo Anne Simon and soon, say community sources, Dan Goldman.
Here is the full list of the 8 candidates that participated in the forum
Jo Anne Simon – Assemblywoman from Brooklyn
Quanda Francis – Accountant, Brooklyn Resident
Dan Goldman – Lead counsel Trump impeachment
Mondaire Jones – Congressman from Suburban New York, moved to Brooklyn for campaign. Endorsed by Nancy Pelosi
Carlina Rivera – City Councilwoman for Lower Manhattan endorsed by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Brian Robinson – small businessman and community activist Tribeca
Yuh-Line Niou – NY Assemblywoman Lower Manhattan
Liz Holtzman – Former Congresswoman, former Brooklyn District Attorney 1989
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