Tong fundraising kicks into high gear
Bay Ridge council candidate raises $53,000
In one fell swoop, Democrat Nancy Tong has propelled herself into the top ranks of candidates running for outgoing Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s seat, according to figures from New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) that showed that she raised an impressive $53,650 in campaign donations during the most recent filing period.
Tong, the Democratic district leader of the 47th Assembly District (AD) and a leader of the Asian-American community in Bensonhurst, had previously raised $5,170, a small sum that was dwarfed by fellow candidates and raised concerns about her seriousness as a candidate.
But the new CFB figures show that Tong appears to be back on track and ready to mount a serious run for the council seat in the 43rd District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst).
Tong is a close ally of Assemblymember Bill Colton, who represents the 47th AD, and Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst).
Gentile, a Democrat who has held the seat since 2003, cannot run for re-election because of New York City’s term limits law. He is running for the Democratic nomination for Brooklyn district attorney.
Tong, who has worked behind the scenes in recent years to get Colton, Treyger and other officials elected, told Kings County Politics that she is busy these days working to get her name on the ballot for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. “I’m starting to prepare my petitions for signatures. I do things step by step. I don’t talk much, I do stuff. To me, it’s always about the community. I’m not looking for fame. I only want to service the community,” Kings County Politics quoted Tong as saying.
One stumbling block for Tong in the council race may be her home address. She does not live in the 43rd Council District. She resides in the neighboring 47th Council District. Under the city’s election laws, a candidate does not have to live in the district in which he or she is running. But the candidate does have to move into the district if he or she wins the election.
Tong was first elected district leader of the 47th A.D. in 2014 with the support of Colton, Treyger and the United Progressive Democratic Club in Bensonhurst.
District leaders are grass-roots political party officials who perform the nuts and bolts work of politics, taking on tasks like recruiting candidates to run for office, gathering petition signatures to get candidates on the ballot, and working phone banks to call voters on behalf of candidates.
Tong, who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York City, is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
“I truly enjoy helping people,” Tong told the Brooklyn Eagle shortly after she was elected district leader. “It gives me great joy when I am able to help someone and make their life a little better or easier.”
Other Democrats in the council race also put up impressive fundraising numbers.
Rev. Khader El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, has raised a total of $93,630. Gentile’s chief of staff Justin Brannan has $99,536 in contributions. Kevin Peter Carroll, an aide to Councilmember Stephen Levin, has garnered $40,242 from donors.
On the Republican side of the aisle, John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden, raised $25,947 in the latest filing period and now has a total of $48,858 in overall campaign contributions, according to the CFB.
Liam McCabe, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, raised $4,857 during the filing period and has $25,203 for his campaign overall.
Bob Capano raised $11,755 in the most recent filing period. Capano, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has a total of $18,905 at his disposal.