As promised, a followup on the escalating war of words
between City Council candidates PJ Kim and Margaret Chin. This morning both campaigns were in court on Chin's lawsuit seeking to force Kim off the ballot for alleged voter fraud. Following the hearing, Kim accused Chin of targeting him legally because she's threatened by another Asian in the race. He then said that while he wants to represent the entire First District, she is seeking to be the "mayor of Chinatown." Chin's campaign has now released the following statement:
…Kim just moved into the district, so it’s excusable that he is unaware of Margaret Chin’s almost four decades of dedication to Lower Manhattan families. What is inexcusable is Kim’s use of racially-charged language whose only aim is to divide and distract voters. “Attacking me takes attention away from the important issues facing working families from TriBeCa to the Lower East Side,” Margaret said today. “Our district needs a councilmember who is committed to working together to build a stronger community. It is clear from his language and his actions that P.J. Kim fails to meet that standard.”
Kim also accused Margaret’s campaign of harassment and intimidation. Margaret, who barely breaks five feet in heels, shook off those comments while reminding voters that she has fought for the people of this district for almost my entire life. “He should be intimidated,” she said. "When you take on unscrupulous landlords, or push City agencies to better serve the community, you learn to stand up and fight for your community. I may be small but I have a big voice and I know how to use it to get results for our district, and I will continue to fight for our communities in the City Council.”
Margaret Chin has dedicated her life to public service for over 30 years. A former teacher, she has been working with community groups in lower Manhattan on affordable housing, education, and equity issues for most of her life. She left her position as Deputy Executive Director of the non-profit group Asian Americans for Equality, where she worked to protect and build affordable housing, in September 2008, to focus on her campaign. Ms. Chin was also a member of Community Boards 1 and 3.
Another candidate in the race, Pete Gleason, is also jumping into the fray this afternoon. His campaign emailed this a short time ago:
This kind of divisive racial politics is exactly what we are trying to move beyond in this campaign. I am convinced that I am the strongest candidate in this race, and the one best suited to work for all our neighborhoods. But PJ Kim’s attempt to racially divide our district by attacking Margaret Chin is unnacceptable. I call on Mr. Kim to apologize to Ms. Chin and all the residents of our diverse community for his insensitive remarks.
In his remarks today, Kim criticized Chin for "dragging me into court for frivolous matters." He called the legal activity related to the campaign a "waste of everyone's time" and a waste of donations made to both campaigns. A spokesman for Chin's campaign said Chin does not relish going to court but she believes it's important to uphold the principle of honesty in political campaigns.