Iwen Chu’s run for the newly-created state Senate District 27 is looking fruitful. The former chief of staff to Assemblymember Peter Abbate Jr. collected over 5,400 signatures from constituents, easily securing her place on the ballot come summer, and has a laundry list of political endorsements as she prepares for the June primary.
Chu announced her candidacy for the brand-new senate seat in February, after the state legislature released their freshly-redrawn district maps. The new District 27 includes South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend, and has a larger population than the city of Buffalo, the second largest in the state, of about 320,000 residents. About 46 percent of the population is Asian.
Ahead of the primary, candidates must gather a number of signatures from constituents to secure their spot on the ballot for weeks ahead of the April deadline, hopeful candidates roamed the city’s streets with trademark green petitioning sheets, pitching themselves to constituents of the district they hope to represent. State senate candidates must collect at least 300 signatures, per state election laws.
“Thanks to my dozens of volunteers who walked with me, knocked on doors with me and supported me, we were able to collect over 5,400 signatures from every corner of SD27,” Chu said, in a release. “We collected signatures from going door-to-door, and from parks, streets, associations, local merchants, laundromats, supermarkets and subways.”
A longtime member of Brooklyn Community Board 11, Chu partnered with Assemblymember Robert Carroll, the United Progressive Democratic Club, and Stars and Stripes in Dyker Heights as she worked to compile enough names to finalize her spot in the race.
Chu is running unopposed in the June 28 primary ahead of a Nov. 8 general election, where New Yorkers will also be casting their votes for governor, state Assembly, and Congress. She’s running primarily because the significant Asian American communities of Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights have gone without representation in the state capital for far too long, she said in an interview with Brooklyn Paper’s sister site PoliticsNY.
The parent of a public school student and graduate of CUNY’s Brooklyn College, Chu supports the New Deal for CUNY, legislation that would make the university tuition-free, increase the number of faculty and staff and shield the school from further state budget cuts through a plan of self-reinvestments and revenue bills in the New York State Legislature.
Chu’s platform also calls for universal childcare, language support and support to immigrant communities.
The future of New York’s redistricting maps — and thus, the races themselves — is a little uncertain. Earlier this month, an appellate court ruled that election proceedings could continue as planned with the new maps after a Steuben County Supreme Court judge ruled the maps unconstitutional and “blatantly gerrymandered.” While the appellate ruling smoothed the path of the election for now, state Republicans have vowed to continue to fight the new maps in court.
Unfazed by the kerfuffle, Chu has been “focusing more on her election, talking to voters about her experience and vision for a fairer, more prosperous New York,” than the ongoing legal battle, a spokesperson said.
She has been backed by the NY Working Families Party, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, two NY State senators, assemblymen and others. Her latest endorsement from councilmember of the 47th District and District Leader of the 45th AD, Ari Kagan, was announced by her campaign staff as an exclusive to the Brooklyn Paper.
“I have known her for many years — first, as great ethnic journalist, and then as Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Peter Abbate and President of influential Stars and Stripes Democratic Club,” Kagan said in a statement. “She is a first-generation immigrant and understands struggles that immigrant families face to achieve their American Dream. We work closely together to fight the dangerous wave of hate crimes in NYC, including against Asian Americans, and to restore and expand popular Gifted and Talented Program.”
Chu is running to be the first Asian-American state elected official in Brooklyn and the first female Asian state Senator in New York.