Gigi Li Kicks Off Campaign For State Assembly Seat

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The lull in the campaign for the 65th Assembly District is over. After Alice Cancel won a special election last month to serve the remainder of Sheldon Silver’s term, attention has shifted to the upcoming Democratic Primary in the fall. We’re publishing separate stories today on the kickoff announcements from two candidates seeking the seat: Paul Newell and Gigi Li.

Li is the outgoing chairperson of Community Board 3 and served as director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. She announced her candidacy yesterday afternoon at an event in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Li, who was born in Hong Kong, said she chose the location because it’s just steps away from I.S. 131, where she attended the Chinatown YMCA summer camp. Li now serves on the board of the Chinatown YMCA.

“This community means so much to me,” said Li in her opening remarks. She recounted her family history in Lower Manhattan. Her grandfather ran a small business on Bayard Street. Li’s grandmother worked in a garment factory.  “Lower Manhattan has been the first stop for millions of American families over the years and these neighborhoods are changing,” said Li. “But the strength, hard work and tirelessness of the people has not. That is what has allowed us to face a lot of challenges together.”

“My first and most important promise to you,” she said, “is that I will work harder than anyone else in this campaign and, if elected, in the state assembly for this community that I love.”

“In the past four years as your board chair,” Li added, “I have worked to improve this community. We’ve worked together to find smart solutions to real challenges. I have formed strong relationships with leaders throughout Lower Manhattan.”  The candidate said she has a three-pronged platform, which includes expanding social services, investing in youth and education and ‘encouraging smart development.” Li said she wants to see new residential projects that include affordability and community amenities.

Alluding to the expulsion of Sheldon Silver from the assembly after so many years, she said, “this election is incredibly important for us because we’ve lost a very powerful presence in Albany.” But Li said a new assembly member can accomplish a lot through hard work and smart planning. “I have the experience and the dedication to deliver results,” she said.

At the event, Li was endorsed by City council member Margaret Chin. [She had endorsed Alice Cancel in the special election]. “There is so much that (Gigi Li) has done to lead our community,” said Chin, “and it’s not easy because our community is so diverse.” Chin went on to say that Li has “managed to work together with everyone to bring benefits to our community… We should all work very hard to help her win.”  Li also received the endorsement of the Vladeck Houses tenant association and Alysha Lewis-Coleman, head of the tenant association of 10 Stanton St., an affordable housing complex.

Other candidates in September will likely include: Paul Newell, a district leader; Yuh-Line Niou, who ran on the Working Families Party line in the April special election; Jenifer Rajkumar, a district leader and attorney; local businessman Don Lee; Lower East Side resident Christopher Marte.; and John Bal, a contender who dropped out of the special election citing a rigged process to select Silver’s successor.

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