Chinatown in Limbo

Will Asian Americans Ever Elect a Councilmember of Their Own?

Asian Americans register in Chinatown: Political diffidence seems to be waning.
photo: Corky Lee
Asian Americans register in Chinatown: Political diffidence seems to be waning.

Ultimately, though, this contest may be a warm-up for another battle—redistricting redux—since the district must be redrawn to reflect the new census. Will District 1's East and West Side finally divorce? Despite mutual hostilities, the answer is far from apparent. Though the virtues of a working-class immigrant district seem obvious, Margarita Lopez—whose club has endorsed Rocky Chin—says nonetheless that the ground hasn't been laid for that marriage. "For 10 years, you have not had the Asian-Latino coalition that might have been built. The alliances are not there either." For a breakthrough, Asian Americans may need to look east—to Queens, where actuary John Liu has won the nod of the county organization in his bid for a council seat—while Chinatown, the historic capital of Asian New York, continues to depend on the kindness of strangers.

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