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Don Lee Enters the Race For the 65th Assembly District

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Don Lee announces his candidacy in Chinatown Jan. 25, 2016.
Don Lee announces his candidacy in Chinatown Jan. 25, 2016.

Don Lee, a Chinatown community activist and technology executive, declared his candidacy today for the State Assembly. He’s seeking to fill the seat held for 40 years by Sheldon Silver, who was forced to relinquish his office after being convicted of federal corruption crimes.

Lee gathered with supporters this morning at the Joy Luck Palace Restaurant on Mott Street. As they feasted on dim sum, Lee outlined his reasons for running in the 65th Assembly District, which includes the Lower East Side and most of Lower Manhattan.

The former city official in the Koch Administration is now chief information officer for the Coalition of Asian American IPA and the Asian American Accountable Care Association. Lee said he has a strong desire to represent “hard working people who get up every day,” work hard and support their families. Referring to Silver, the candidate said, “What he did was wrong. He violated the public trust.” Lee said he wants to go to Albany to restore faith in government. “We want to make a statement: We all want clean government that represents our interests.” Top policy priorities, he said, would be access to health care and senior services, as well as strengthening small businesses and creating jobs. “All of Lower Manhattan, from Battery Park City and the Financial District to the Lower East Side and Chinatown,” said Lee, “is under intense pressure from forces that threaten to price long term residents and businesses out of their neighborhoods.”

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Lee noted that the restaurant chosen for his announcement was formerly a garment factory where his wife worked as a seamstress to put the couple through college. Growing up in Chinatown, Lee attended P.S. 130 and Seward Park High School. He graduated with an accounting degree from New York University. Lee said he’s always been a tireless advocate for local residents. He cited campaigns for better service at the MTA’s Grand Street subway station during construction and advocacy on behalf of street vendors in Chinatown. Lee now lives in Battery Park City.

Governor Cuomo has yet to call a special election to fill thr remainder of Silver’s current term. If he takes this step, the Democratic and Republican nominees would be chosen by local political activists at the county committee level. Regardless, a Primary Election will be held this coming September for the position. That election is Lee’s focus. Other candidates for the office include: Yuh-Line Niou, Assembly member Ron Kim’s chief of staff; Jenifer Rajkumar, Paul Newell and Alice Cancel, all district leaders; and Little Italy resident John Bal. Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li is also anticipating a run. Finally, Lower East Side resident Christopher Marte is running as an independent.

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  1. Can someone tell me the address where he is claiming Chinatown residency? He has a Con Ed bill sent to our building in his name but is never in the building and does not live here. Efforts to contact him via his wife’s cell number and his homecrest email have been to no avail both last year for a speedy response to access requests because of heating complaints and now for a bug complaint.

    Photos and videos of the interior indicate that he is not living there.

  2. He told today’s Sing Tao that he is claiming BPC residency. Doesn’t explain the Con Ed bill in his name or certain other issues that have been sent to his attention at donleeforny.org. Hopefully, we will hear back soon so we know he is not another Margaret Chin.

  3. Where does Don Lee stand on means testing rent regulated apartments?


    New York’s highest court has decided that tenants who reside in rent-regulated apartments are receiving a “local public assistance benefit.” Essentially, the court determined that rent subsidies are not different from social security, Medicaid, disability, welfare or unemployment benefits. So, if rent-regulated tenants are receiving rent welfare, why won’t a single politician support means testing for those who receive this public assistance benefit?

    Tenants who qualify to receive rent welfare would not have to worry about litigation from owners who have no other way to find out how much the tenant earns. Roll into the process proof of primary residency and the amount of “harassment” would drop exponentially. How could anyone not see this as fair? In order for a tenant to qualify for virtually any other type of housing subsidy, they need to demonstrate need. To exempt rent regulated tenants from having to do the same is patently unfair and promotes a gross misallocation of our desperately tight housing stock.

  4. If he is pro small business – cuz BID is not, Margaret Chin is not – where does he stand on capping property taxes?


    We are overassessed compared to everyone else on several blocks including corner buildings.

    Which one of these ethnic Chinese candidates will say BOO about this and get these taxes lowered?

    is he really going to get anything done or does he just want a six figure salary based on a newspaper trail (what a coincidence) of assisting street vendors and Marilyn Louie? My mother has kept every press release on Don Lee for years.

    How does he feel about providing access for repair issues and pest control issues?

    How does he feel about passing the buck when it suits when it comes to claiming tenancy?

    What does he have to say about the lack of meritocracy in property owners holding onto apartments they not only don’t need but also never use?

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