Chinatown Banker Yungman Lee Challenges U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

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A Chinatown community banker is taking on U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez in next year’s Democratic Primary. Yesterday in a banquet hall alongside the Manhattan Bridge, 63-year-old Yungman Lee announced his candidacy for the 7th Congressional District, which includes sections of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, as well as neighborhoods throughout Queens and Brooklyn.

Lee is a a known quantity in Chinatown. Since 2008, he has been president and CEO of Global Bank, an institution at 30 East Broadway. Previously, he was a New York State deputy superintendent of banks and was a member of the New York City Tax Commission in the 1990s. Lee attended Columbia University and NYU Law School. He’s worked for large firms as well as independently as a community-based lawyer in Chinatown.

In remarks before a large group of supporters, Lee called 12-term Congresswoman Velazquez “tired” and “out of touch.” Lee said he believes people are sick of non-productive career politicians. While acknowledging that he has never run for elected office, Lee said, “Of course I am qualified, precisely because I’m not a politician.” He emphasized his immigrant roots, said he’s achieved the American dream and wants to make sure other immigrants can do the same. Grace Meng became the first Asian member of the New York Congressional delegation in 2012. Lee noted that Asian Americans are “woefully underrepresented” in Washington.

Rep. Velazquez did not have much to say about her challenger when contacted by The Lo-Down yesterday, noting only, “This is America and anyone can run.”

In the past, City Council member Margaret Chin has been important in Velazquez’s get-out-the-vote efforts in Chinatown. Chin is the first Chinese American to represent the neighborhood at City Hall. Lee’s campaign complicates the equation for her in next year’s primary. A spokesperson for the Council member said she has supported Velazquez in the past “and she continues to support her.” Formal endorsements, of course, are a different matter. Those will likely not come for several months.

Yungman Lee's supporters posed for photos before his arrival yesterday.

Yungman Lee’s supporters posed for photos before his arrival yesterday.


1 comment to Chinatown Banker Yungman Lee Challenges U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

  • JEng

    Oh he looked more vibrant on the AAFE website. My mother made him sound like he was a clean candidate but he signed our onerous lease so ….

    He looks a little tired but so does Nydia Velazquez. Neither one of them sound like they can make things happen but bizarrely Sheldon Silver sounds like he made things happen in a bad way – in the courthouse which Preet Bharara didn’t go after – maybe it was too difficult.

    It sounds like everything has to do with the Mayor and I am not sure anyone can convince the Mayor of anything that he hasn’t already decided. His press is so bad and he doesn’t care like it is intentional.

    I would say Margaret should take over for Sheldon Silver except I know for a fact that Margaret does not help everyone – she is not impartial.

    But I bet this guy would never help my family with our concerns either.

    It’s too bad. I thought Chinatown would have wholesome and decent that they were holding back for this very day as if Sheldon Silver was just protecting Chinatown until it was ready to stand on its own. Now it does not look like that at all and in the interim Chinatown came to look vitriolic.

    And I don’t think nonChinatown people from Queens or Battery Park City should be representing any area that covers Chinatown. Then it is just about power and not a true voice.

    If Margaret would change – she won’t – she should take over for Sheldon Silver – I know she won’t and I am creeped out by her choice of chief of staff. I thought Margaret was to de-JACL AAFE by misclaiming that she cofounded AAFE but now I think the opposite is true.