Bensonhurst's Asian Community Reacts to Liu Win

Posted on 09. Nov, 2009 by in Uncategorized

City Councilman John Liu made history this week when he won the election for City Controller, becoming the first Asian-American elected to a city-wide position.  He soundly defeated Republican opponent Joseph Mendola by 76 percent to 19 percent.

John Liu [Headshot]

Controller-elect John Liu

While many across the city are excited by the win, Asian residents in Bensonhurst have mixed feelings.

Michael Chan, 65, voted for Liu and is happy with the results.  He praised Liu for his accessibility, saying, “If we call him about an event, he will come.  He can communicate with the community well.”

Chan, who is Chinese, said that Liu’s Taiwanese heritage didn’t affect his vote.  His feeling is that the Asian community is glad to see more of their issues addressed.  “Whoever’s working for the citizen, we’ll vote for him.”

Though about 12% of New Yorkers are Asian, Liu is the first Asian-American elected to a city-wide position. In the September primary, Asian voters came out in larger numbers than in previous elections, contributing to his success.  His election Tuesday may be a sign of increased involvement in city politics from the Asian community – a group that has historically been underrepresented politically.

Andy Yu, 37, hopes he inspires children in the community towards careers in politics.  “I hope it will encourage kids to go into public service, not just be doctors and lawyers.”

Yu also likes Liu because he says he is aggressive on issues related to the Asian community and is actively involved.  Yu says that even though Liu previously served as City Councilman in Flushing, Queens, he still took time to come down to Bensonhurst to speak with citizens.

His involvement doesn’t mean much to Kerry Yue Feng.  Though Feng’s family is from Flushing, he doesn’t feel much of a connection to the newly-elected controller.

“A lot of people up there are still supporting him, but I’m not one of them,” he said.  Feng, whose family is from mainland China, says that Liu is generally more supported by Taiwanese citizens, adding that he and his family, “don’t really get that involved in politics.”

Sally Ho, a mother of two, echoed Feng’s sentiments.  She didn’t vote in the election and doesn’t know much about Liu.

“I just know he’s 42 years old,” said Ho, laughing.  “As long as he does a good job, I don’t really care.”

Timmy Lee, 31, didn’t vote either.  Though he only holds a green card, he thinks he may become more active once he is able to register.  Lee, who is Korean, isn’t very involved in politics in general, stating of Liu’s win, “I knew he won in the primary, but I didn’t know he won [on Tuesday].”

For Lee, Liu’s win is underwhelming, despite his historic win.

“That’s great, but I don’t really care.”

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