May 10, 2021 By Allie Griffin
State Sen. John Liu endorsed three candidates in the contentious race for the Flushing council seat last week.
Liu — who became the first Asian American to serve on the City Council when he held the same Flushing seat (District 20) years ago — endorsed candidates John Choe, Ellen Young and Sandra Ung Thursday, in no particular order.
He announced his chosen candidates in front of Flushing Town Hall about a week after two of his picks, Choe and Young, formed a coalition with five other candidates to oppose Ung.
The candidates are all running for the seat representing downtown Flushing, Murray Hill and Queensboro Hill — which is currently held by term-limited Council Member Peter Koo.
Liu has yet to decide what order he will rank them on his own ballot, but urged voters to pick them as their top three choices in line with the city’s new ranked-choice voting system. Voters will be able to rank candidates from one to five in order of preference on primary election day, June 22.
Liu said he has worked closely with all three of his choices for many years.
“Of the 10 candidates running for city council in District 20, there are three who stand out,” he said on the steps of the Flushing Town Hall Thursday. “I have seen first-hand their integrity, pursuit of excellence, and commitment to the public good.”
Liu and Choe have close ties that go back decades.
Choe spearheaded Liu’s city council campaign in 2001, which led to him winning the District 20 seat. He also served as Liu’s legislative director and chief of staff.
“As my Legislative Director and Chief of Staff, JC [Choe] spearheaded my effort to enact our City’s first language access law, hold developers accountable, and coordinated the fight against racial bigotry and police abuse,” Liu said. “He’ll make a fine Council Member, ready and able to serve effectively on day one.”
Choe is currently the executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and has been an outspoken critic of the Special Flushing Waterfront District development. The project, nevertheless, appears to be moving forward — having been approved by the City Council in December.
He has been backed by the Working Families Party as well as a coalition of two activist groups and a major labor union.
Liu also said he was proud to endorse former Assembly Member Young, who was the first Asian woman elected to the state legislature.
“From championing affordable healthcare and housing to working with first responders to improve our health and safety, Ellen is the champion for Queens that we need,” he said.
Lastly, Liu gave an equally glowing endorsement to Ung, who has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, a number of powerful unions, current Flushing Council Member Koo and Rep. Grace Meng.
Ung has worked in Meng’s office handling constituent services and community outreach operations as a special assistant for the last eight years. She also worked in non profit as an attorney.
Liu said Ung would be ready to represent the district on day one as well.
“With experience both as a nonprofit attorney and in government, [Ung] is ready to take on the challenges of representing District 20 on day one,” he said.
However, Ung’s fellow candidates have been less favorable to her due to the endorsement she’s received from the Queens County Democratic Party. The party, which is known by many as the machine, has come under heavy criticism in recent years for allegedly working against candidates it does not favor.
Seven candidates, including Young and Choe, have created a coalition called the “Democratic Coalition for Council District 20” to reject the Queens County Democratic Party’s singular endorsement of Ung — as first reported by City & State.
The coalition also includes candidates Hailing Chen, Ming-Kang Low, Anthony Miranda, Neng Wang and Dao Yin. They said they formed the coalition to ask voters for fair consideration — free of the Democratic party establishment’s sway.
However, both Young and Choe, despite being part of the coalition, have been endorsed by the party in past elections.