Sunset Park

Asian-Americans solidify political clout by forming Democratic club

April 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Leaders of the new Asian-American political club gather with elected officials for an historic photo. Photos courtesy of the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club

Hoping to harness the city’s burgeoning Asian-American population into a major political force, community leaders have formed a new political club and have established an ambitious agenda aimed at registering large number of Asian-Americans to vote and pushing elected officials to start paying attention to the needs of Asian-Americans.

The inaugural meeting of the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club took place at Park Asia Restaurant at 6521 Eighth Ave. in Sunset Park on April 7.

The new club is led by President Kenneth Chiu, Vice Presidents Jimmy Li and Murad Awawdeh, Secretary Weber Leung and Treasurer Mon Yuck Yu.

The New York Asian-American Democratic Club (NYCADC) is looking to increase the number of registered and active Asian-American Democratic voters, leaders said.

The club also intends to make its voice heard by supporting candidates who promote the priorities of Asian-American communities across the city.

“In launching the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club, we are addressing the need for a citywide democratic organization that pushes for the priorities of Asian-American communities,” Chiu said in a statement. “We are starting a conversation with our neighborhoods on the issues that matter most to them and we will advocate for Asian-Americans to become more empowered in New York’s political and government processes.”

The Asian-American population in New York City has increased significantly in recent years, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, which showed that several Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Sunset Park, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, have seen a spike in the number of Asian-Americans moving in.

The New York Times reported in 2014 that in the city overall, the number of Asian-Americans living in the five boroughs has increased by 32 percent since 2000.

In Bensonhurst, the population of Asian-Americans increased by 57 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the City University of New York’s Center for Urban Outreach.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) praised the idea of forming a new political club. “As a representative of the fastest growing community in New York, I am incredibly proud of the debut of a citywide democratic club focused on increasing Asian-American civic participation. The role of Asian-Americans in our city’s political and electoral landscape grows each year, and the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club is poised to capture this grassroots enthusiasm,” she said.

But even non-Asian-American elected officials said they recognized the need for the club.

“The birth of the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club is one more example of how we grow stronger and more effective by embracing our diversity and working together, unlike those who try to prosper by dividing us. This is New York values at its best,” said U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan).

Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park) predicted that the NYCADC will empower the entire Asian-American community. “NYCADC will lead the way for more Asian-Americans to run for office,” he said.

Other elected officials who attended the NYCADC’s first meeting included state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn), Assemblymembers Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) and Peter Abbate (D-Dyker Heights-parts of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst) and Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) and Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst).

Former city comptroller John Liu, who was the first Asian-American to be elected to citywide office, was also in attendance.