Susan Zhuang wins election in city’s first Asian-majority council district

Susan Zhuang victory
Democrat Susan Zhuang declared victory in the race for District 43 on Tuesday night.
Photo by Adam Daly

Democrat Susan Zhuang has declared victory in the contentious race for city council in District 43, New York City’s first Asian-majority district.

Just hours after the polls closed on Tuesday, Zhuang had garnered more than 58% of the vote with 99% of scanners reporting, according to unofficial results from the Board of Elections. Her opponents, Republican Ying Tan and Conservative Vito LaBella had earned 26% and 14.55% of the vote, respectively.

“As a first-generation immigrant, working mom, and public servant, I understand and have been working on the issues Southern Brooklyn residents care most about – keeping our communities safe, ensuring we have the best schools, creating affordable housing, and protecting our quality of life,” Zhuang said in a statement on Wednesday. “I am truly humbled by last night’s result.”

Zhuang, the former chief of staff for Assembly Member William Colton, ran on a platform committed to public safety — including cracking down on hate and racism in southern Brooklyn — improving public education, increasing affordable housing, and demanding action from the federal government on New York’s migrant crisis. 

Susan Zhuang
Zhuang celebrated with supporters on Tuesday night. Photo by Adam Daly

“This is only the beginning,” Colton said at Zhuang’s Bath Beach victory party. “When you have people working together, fighting together in order to get what’s right for all of us, there’s no limit on what we can accomplish. This is a historic moment. Susan has now made history — but not just Susan. All of us have made history, and that’s what’s important.” 

District 43 is currently represented by Democrat Justin Brannan, who chose to run in District 47 after redistricting dramatically changed the boundaries of both districts last year. The district, which now encompasses parts of Bensonhurst, Borough Park, and Sunset Park, was drawn as the first Asian-majority council district — 53.9% of the district’s population identifies as Asian, according to Redistricting & You

Once victory was declared and the champagne was popped, Zhuang thanked the many volunteers who worked to get her elected.

Wearing pink bibs with Zhuang’s name, the campaign volunteers were a regular fixture on the streets of the 43rd District, handing out flyers and knocking on doors in the run up to Nov. 7. On Election Day itself, their visibility outside the polling sites dwarfed that of her opponents. 

Stephanie Gonzalez, a campaign intern and volunteer, has been working on the campaign since February, helping to recruit and train other interns along with phone banking and knocking on doors. She and the other volunteers pushed their way to apartment doors to chat with constituents, knowing that campaign flyers left in the lobby rarely make it upstairs, she said. It all paid off on Tuesday night, she said. 

“Another impressive thing about campaign is that our campaign is full of children of recent immigrants who barely speak any English, mostly Chinese. Their ability to overcome the language barrier and their fear of speaking English was the most impressive thing ever,” she said. 

susan zhuang volunteer
Campaign volunteer Stephanie (left) said Zhuang’s team of volunteers worked hard to reach constituents and earn Zhuang’s win.Photo by Adam Daly

Lining He, a campaign volunteer for Zhuang, said he felt the win came down to the grassroots support Zhuang built up in the area — and said he feels her win is the start of a better future for Brooklyn.

“Susan has the heart for the community, she has the guts for the community, she has the passion for all of you — serving all of you,” He told the crowd at Zhuang’s party on Tuesday night. “Today shows a grassroots movement is coming up, is emerging, in south Brooklyn. Let’s work with Susan in making a better community!”

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn — chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party — thanked Colton and former council member Mark Treyger for standing beside Zhuang as they celebrated at her victory party. 

“I want to thank them for believing and pushing for diversity, and for a woman,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “I’m just so excited to be part of this history, and I cannot wait until you start in the City Council and start rocking.” 

After conceding the race, Republican candidate Ying Tan extended her “heartfelt congratulations” to Zhuang on her victory. 

“I am immensely proud of the hard work, dedication, and passion that our team and supporters have shown throughout this journey,” said Tan in a statement. “Though the outcome may not be what we hoped for, let us remember that our great city is a tapestry of different voices and perspectives. We must continue to work together, across party lines, to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Our common goal remains a thriving, safe, and prosperous New York City.”

Conservative opponent Vito LaBella also congratulated Zhuang on her win, saying that despite the outcome of the race, it was “not a defeat” for him politically.

“There is still work to be done, and as I said many times throughout this campaign, ‘I’m not going anywhere’,” LaBella said in a statement Wednesday. 

“I congratulate City Councilmember Elect Susan Zhuang on her victory and wish her good luck as she represents the 43rd district on the City Council as a member of the Common Sense Caucus.”

Last updated 11/8/2023, 2:30 p.m.