Southern Brooklyn

Chang takes Assembly seat, won’t be expelled

January 10, 2023 Jaime DeJesus
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Lester Chang was sworn in as the new assemblymember for the 49th District Jan. 3. 

The district includes Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Dyker Heights.

Despite a challenge by Assembly Democrats over residency concerns, Speaker Carl Heastie said Chang will not be expelled at this time.

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Under state elections rules, Chang was required to have been a resident of Brooklyn for 12 months prior to Election Day in order to be eligible to run for the Assembly. 

Left to right: Assemblymember Lester Chang, Assemblymember Michael Novakhov, Kings County Conservative Party Chairperson Fran Vella-Marrone, Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny and Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Ted Ghorra. Photos courtesy of Fran Vella-Marrone

During a rally last month, Chang said he lived in a Manhattan apartment with his wife until she died in 2019 but that he still had a residence in Brooklyn. After his wife’s death, he spent more time in his Brooklyn home taking care of his 95-year-old mother, he said.

“After careful review, the vast majority of our members have significant concerns about the truthfulness of Mr. Chang’s documentary evidence and testimony regarding his compliance with the New York State Constitution,” Heastie said. “Although it is clear that there were more than enough votes to expel Mr. Chang, we will not do so at this time.”

Chang, a Navy veteran, defeated Assemblymember Peter Abbate, who held the seat since 1987. He is the first Asian-American man from Brooklyn to be elected to state office. 

“My Brooklyn neighbors desperately need relief from New York’s high crime rates, exorbitant cost of living, and nation-leading taxes,” he said. “I promise to fight for them in Albany with the same passion and mettle with which I served in the U.S. Navy Reserves. I will also lead the fight in Albany for merit-based public school opportunities for hardworking students.”

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