Surrounded by dozens of young volunteers last Thursday afternoon in front of Flushing Library, Jung said he’s proud to be building an “uplifting and unifying” grassroots campaign.
“We are not relying on the power of party bosses,” he said. “We’re not relying on the power of special interests. We’re not relying on the power of big money.”
Jung, who collected nearly 42 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary two years ago, kicked off his Senate bid in March. He said voters are disappointed with the current crop of elected officials and want a change in Albany.
“The voters are fed up with politics as usual,” he said. “The quality of life here in Queens continues to deteriorate. Corruption up in Albany continues to grow.”
Stavisky, the first woman in Queens elected to the state Senate, was elected in 1999 after the death of her husband Leonard Stavisky, who was also an Albany legislator. She’s held the seat ever since.
In 2014, there was no Republican challenger, so Stavisky claimed victory after her primary win. Noting that there are only two candidates in the race, Jung said the stakes are high for this election. He depicted himself as a fresh face who will begin a “new day” in Queens and in Albany.
“This is a race between the politics of the past versus leadership of the future,” Jung said. “This is a race between negative campaigning versus an uplifting and unifying message, between protecting the status quo and giving hope and a future to our community.”
Jung built a small business in international trade from the ground up. The son of Korean immigrants, he also helped run his parents’ family store.
His community advocacy began as a volunteer for the Flushing-based MinKwon Center for Community Action, a social service organization that provides free legal clinics, housing counseling, civic participation programs and citizenship applications. He eventually served as executive director from 1989 until 1994. Since then, he has been a board member, including a stint as the organization’s president from 2006 to 2014.
In 2009, Jung ran for the City Council seat left open by John Liu, who later became the city’s comptroller. He received high-profile endorsements from newspapers like The New York Times and the Daily News and major unions, but eventually lost to Councilman Peter Koo.
Jung was elected District Leader for the Flushing area in 2010 before running against Stavisky for the state Senate in 2014.
His platform includes: ending corruption in Albany, boosting the economy and protecting seniors. Jung said he supports campaign finance reform, including adopting a matching fund system, similar to the one used by New York City. He also supports limiting the outside income of Albany’s legislators.
“Everybody knows the solution. The problem is, do we have the political will and determination?” Jung said. “I strongly believe unless we elect new leaders who have courage and conviction to tackle this age-old problem of corruption in Albany, we’re not going to see any change.”
He commended Governor Andrew Cuomo for proposing some ethics reform, including closing the LLC loophole. However, Jung said those are just “baby steps” and more needs to be done.
In his district, Jung said there is a “long list of long-term projects” that need to be addressed, including overcrowded 7 trains and senior centers. His solution includes more investment in local infrastructure.
As young volunteers chanted his name on the hot and humid Thursday afternoon, Jung said he will not stop until he’s knocked on every door in the district.
“I believe that the voters are searching for a new leader who has passion, energy and vision,” he said. “The choice is clear.”