Chinese Vote Becomes Key As Bay Ridge State Senate Race Intensifies
From Singtao Daily
October 5, 2002
This November 5th, the Chinese community of Brooklyns Sunset
Park and Bay Ridge will meet with an unprecedented opportunity in
local political history their votes might very well decide
the state senate elections. At the moment, area residents are equally
divided in their support for the Republican and the Democratic candidates.
Senate District 22 comprises the heavily-Chinese neighborhoods
of Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and Bensonhurst. With roughly a month
to go until election day, candidates Vincent Gentile (D) and Marty
Golden (R) are neck in neck. The one who manages to curry the favor
of Chinese voters will definitely have the advantage.
Census 2000 statistics indicate that Senate District 22 has a total
population of 311,260 of which 73 percent is white, 16 percent is
Asian (mostly Chinese), and approximately 8 percent is Hispanic.
The actual number of Chinese residents is 50,869, of which only
14,000 are registered voters. According to Goldens campaign
office, there are still 38,000 within this group who are over 18
and thus eligible to vote, but have not yet registered.
It is obvious that Golden has a greater regard for the Chinese
minority than Gentile does. Golden has hosted quite a few voter
registration drives for the Chinese community this year alone. His
office reported that he helped register 200 new immigrants this
summer, of whom half were Republicans, and the rest from various
parties. Yesterday, his office held a voter registration event in
Bensonhurst for Chinese residents.
Senate District 22 has one of the largest and most concentrated
Asian populations among the districts redrawn as part of this years
statewide redistricting plan. The seventy-percent non-Asian segment
of the areas residents is basically split between the two
candidates, making the Asian minority the deciding factor in this
Gentile (D) is State Senator for District 23. Most of the neighborhoods
he represents have been swallowed up by District 22. He now has
to run for office in a new district against the popular Marty Golden,
the current City Councilman for Bay Ridge. Now serving his second
consecutive term within this capacity, Golden has already built
up quite a reputation within the neighborhood. Residents of all
faiths and ethnicities readily place their trust in him.
Golden and Gentile both started their political careers in this
area of Brooklyn. Having been elected State Senator for the past
three terms, Gentile would most definitely have won again had Golden
not decided to join the fray. The uncertainty he introduced is palpable.
Many in the neighborhood have been longtime supporters of both politicians
the one being at the state level and the other local. Many
voters are thus caught in a dilemma now that they are both after
the same job.
Gentile was a prosecutor for the District Attorney before serving
as SD 23 Senator for three terms. He has roots in the community,
and attends to district affairs both great and small with much zest.
Because of his visibility within the district, the local press has
nicknamed him "Senator Everyday." Golden was a police
officer until he was injured on the job. He retired from law enforcement
and helped revitalize the neighborhood when he launched a new career
in business. He defeated all his opponents when he first ran for
City Council in 1997 as a Democrat, and has been Bay Ridges
representative ever since.
The number of registered Chinese voters has grown considerably
since the presidential elections of two years ago, and especially
since Brooklyn Chinese American Planning Council director Mai Baoluo
made it onto District 20s school board. Actual voter turnout
has gone up too, and given the significance of some of the races
this year, Chinese participation is expected to jump.
Right now both senatorial candidates are eagerly pursuing the Chinese
vote. They regularly appear at local events. Golden though, in addition
to maintaining close ties to the community in Brooklyn, has also
kept up a relationship with the one in Manhattan (Chinatown) as
well. This summer, he hired Chinese-American Li Zongbao as a consultant
after his long-term efforts within the City Council for establishing
the Lunar New Year Festival as a city-wide holiday finally succeeded.
On that day next year, the alternate side of the street parking
will be suspended as it is for all other public holidays.
Most people believe that SD 23s Chinese residents are inclined
towards electing Golden. However, the Republican cannot overlook
the fact that a majority of Chinese voters are Democrats. Their
support for Gentile is not to be dismissed.
In the coming weeks, Golden is expected to intensify his campaign
efforts within the Chinese community through telephone calls and
Translated From Chinese By Kelvin Wu
State Assembly Candidates Struggle For The Fujianese Vote
From Singtao Daily
October 2, 2002
The candidates for the state assembly seat in District 22 are engaged
in a heated battle for the support of immigrant voters from Chinas
Fujian province. Republican candidate Meilin Tan has been quite
successful in this endeavor thus far, but the others, most notably
Jimmy Meng, have not given up. Although Mengs ties to Fujianese
associations are less intimate than Tans, he took the initiative
of publishing a full-page advertisement to promote his campaign
in the October edition of "The Voice of Fujian America"
(Fujian Qiaosheng), a monthly newspaper read primarily by Fujianese
As the only Republican in the race, Tan did not need to fret about
the primary. This not only allowed her to comfortably wait by as
her Democratic opponents fought it out amongst themselves (Grodenchik
won the primary; early on, Tan had already perceived the Jewish
candidate to be her real challenger), but also saved quite a bit
in campaign financing; her Flushing campaign office only opened
on September 6th.
One might expect her efforts at wooing the favor of the Fujianese
community to still be in their infancy, but the situation is quite
the reverse. She and her son, Shunxi Tan, have shown up at all major
Fujianese gatherings accompanied by mayoral and gubernatorial representatives.
Tan can greet the director of every single Fujianese council by
name, in the process reminding him or her of a close relationship
extending back one to two decades.
The weight these ethnic associations cast on the local political
scene is quite apparent. In the course of many meetings with them,
Tan has not failed to stress her record of service to the Fujianese
community and remind them of the sacrifices she has made. Though
she never specifically pinpoints what these are, everyone present
is undoubtedly aware of them.
In response, these various societies have been unwavering in backing
her run for assembly. In August, Tan met with the East Coast Fujianese
Association (Meidong Fujian Tongxianghui), where Fujianese community
leaders voiced their support for her campaign. The day her Flushing
office opened, Fujianese from all over the city showed up to congratulate
her. The Changle Association (Changle Gonghui) contributed $5,000
towards her campaign. On September 19th, the Fujianese-American
Council (Fujianqiao Tuan) organized a fund-raising dinner for her
at the Jinfong Restaurant in Chinatown, which nearly all the major
players of the community attended. She raised $12,888 that night.
The first to establish links with the Fujianese constituency, though,
was candidate Ethel Chen (D). Months before Tan became visibly active,
Chen had already met with the East Coast Fujianese Association while
seeking support. On April 7th, the association had donated $15,900
to her campaign.
Meilin Tan only met up with this group on June 9th. The same association
offered a pledge of support to Jimmy Meng on July 12th. The Fujianese
Business Association (Fujian Gongshang Zhonghui) and the Minnan
Association (Minnan Tongxianghui) also decided to back him up at
Although all three of the Chinese candidates have friends within
the community, Meilin Tan is undoubtedly the most popular among
The number of Fujianese voters within the 22nd Assembly District
is far lower than that of Chinatown, but their representation within
the local Flushing community is substantial. Their level of support
offers a convenient indicator to the candidates of their standing
within the Flushing area at large, and their votes present a prize
not to be overlooked. In addition, given the generosity of the community
during this campaign season, it is obvious why the candidates must
fight to garner as much support as they can from the members of
this ethnic group.
From this assembly race, the high degree of political participation
among the Fujianese citizens is evident. They know full well that
their vote is worth more than their dollar. Come November 5th, we
shall all know the true extent of their political strength.
Translated from Chinese by Kelvin Wu.
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