Yesterday, John Liu was sworn in as New York City's first Asian-American City Comptroller. He took an ambitious tone promising among other things to provide for an equitable distribution of contracts as well as oversight on the city's budget. A major problem with said contracts is the lack of these contracts awarded to minority owned businesses. Liu and fellow Democrat, Bill de Blasio (also newly elected) plan to challenge incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg on a variety of issues including his control over the city schools. While the mayor's office asserts that graduation and testing scores have increased during mayoral control of the schools, critics charge him with lowering standards for testing and graduation to inflate school statistics.
The office of the city comptroller has almost never actively engaged and challenged the mayor on public policy which perhaps means that the election of Liu, a constant critic of Bloomberg will likely change the fairly unilateral dynamic of city politics. Either way, it will be important to remain focused on issues rather than politics, something which I have full confidence in Liu and deBlasio will do. In that the murder rate and other crime has taken a sharp decline in the city, even in spite of the recession, New York City will be in good hands for the next four years.
Meanwhile, in John Liu's old City Council seat, Republican Peter Koo was sworn in and wasted no time laying out his plan for Flushing. Among his priorities, tackling the dangerous and almost impossible problem of traffic in downtown Flushing, particularly on Main Street. Other quality of life issues include trash and a crumbling infrastructure. Since Peter Koo is already very heavily involved in the Flushing Business Improvement District as well as the Flushing Chinese Business Association, there is no doubt that he will do an exceptional job at tackling quality of life issues.
“I want people to be able to say, ‘Oh, this is better now,’”
Koo is already a well known figure in the community for both his business as well as his charity work. In addition to donating his entire salary to charity, he also bought 135 turkeys for low income and elderly families this past Thanksgiving. I am also fairly confident that District 20 is in good hands in that he has already identified the key issues in the neighborhood and was involved in fixing them long before he has political ambitions. This is likely the reason why hundreds of Democrats crossed party lines to vote for him over Democratic rival Yen Chou.
Like the other two, the building was packed, with over 200 people watching as Margaret Chin was sworn in as the first Asian-American to represent New York City's Chinatown. Chin was no newcomer to the community as she had been involved in community organizations for years. She promised to continue her involvement as well as take care of all residents, regardless of ethnicity or race in her district.
Asian American representation in New York City politics may not be as strong as it could be, but the few that were sworn in today will surely bring diligence and integrity to their posts.