Jan. 2, 2024 By Rachel Butler
Yi Andy Chen, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for city council in 2021, has announced that he is running to represent the Flushing area in the state assembly and will be taking on Ron Kim, the incumbent, in the Democratic primary in June.
Chen, who has lived in Queens since his family immigrated from China in 2002, aims to represent District 40, which covers the northeastern Queens neighborhoods of Flushing, Linden Hill, Murray Hill and Broadway-Flushing.
He said he is running on a platform of tackling crime and creating more affordable housing. He also wants to focus on job creation for working class New Yorkers. Chen has adopted a moderate platform, differing from Kim who is widely viewed as one of the more progressive members in the assembly in a district that has become more conservative.
Chen, 35, who currently lives in downtown Flushing, says that combating crime in the district is his number one priority, with getting guns off the street and reducing theft being a big focus.
“Illegal guns and gun violence is a big problem and there has also been an increase in burglaries in residential areas, so this is the most important thing for me to solve if I am elected,” he said.
In relation to housing, Chen said that he wants to bring more affordable housing to the area as well as add housing for seniors.
“Being able to create legislation in the state assembly that would lead to the creation of affordable housing, senior housing and assist senior housing is important to me,” he said.
In addition to creating more affordable housing, Chen says that he will advocate for working class families to make sure that they have jobs that provide a stable income and come with benefits. He said that this financial stability would bolster the local economy.
“I see a problem at the moment with some people becoming employed with jobs that are not stable. We don’t want to provide people with a job that they are going to lose within a few months, with no benefits or protection,” he added.
He believes that creating good jobs and ensuring affordable housing are two important issues that the district needs to improve.
Chen also mentioned that supporting nonprofit organizations in the district is vital, especially in neighborhoods where there is a high immigrant population where people aren’t proficient in English. He believes that supporting these organizations will also assist with more people obtaining stable jobs.
“What we are seeing now, especially in new immigrant communities like my district is that a lot of people have language barriers when it comes to employment, and really rely on non-profit organizations to help them with immigration issues, filling out senior housing applications and a number of other things and I believe that providing support to these organizations will help the communities,” he said.
Chen has run for elected office before. He ran to represent the Jackson Heights/Elmhurst district in the city council in 2021 but was narrowly defeated by Shekar Krishnan in the Democratic primary.
When asked why people should vote for him as opposed to Kim, Chen says that he believes people are ready for change.
“Ron Kim has been in this position for 11 years and I think that he has failed to connect with the communities and fix the problems that matter to them. When I spoke with a lot of residents in the district, many of them do not even know who their assembly member is and I think that’s a big problem. If you are not connecting with people in your community then I don’t think that you can be a good legislator and pass the bills in Albany to help people,” he said.
Chen said that he has built a connection with the neighborhood, noting that he is a community board member and is involved with the local NYPD precincts. He said that he is very aware of the problems in the community and believes the district is ready for a new representative.
Kim is likely to face a battle to keep his assembly seat. He won the 2022 general election by a very slim margin beating Republican challenger Sharon Liao on the night by about 500 votes.