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Margaret Chin

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Margaret Chin
Margaret Chin 2011.jpg
Chin in 2011
Member of New York City Council representing District 1
Assumed office
January 1, 2010
Preceded by Alan Gerson
Constituency Financial District
Battery Park City
Two Bridges
Civic Center
Little Italy
Lower East Side (part)
Greenwich Village (part)
Governors Island
Majority 86%[1]
Personal details
Born (1954-05-26) May 26, 1954 (age 60)[2][3]
Hong Kong
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Alan Tung[3]
Children Kevin Tung[3]
Residence Financial District[3]
Alma mater Bronx High School of Science
City College of New York
Occupation Educator
Website NYC Council:District 1

Margaret Chin (Chinese: 陳倩雯) is a New York City-based American politician. A Democrat, she was elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009, to represent District 1 in Lower Manhattan,[1] which includes, amongst other neighborhoods and sites, Chinatown, the Financial District, City Hall, and the site of the World Trade Center. Chin immigrated to the United States when she was nine years old and was raised in Chinatown.[3] She is the first Asian American and the first Chinese American elected to represent New York City's Chinatown in the city council, and the first Asian American woman elected to the city council.[4] She and Queens Council member Peter Koo comprise the Asian American delegation of the city council. Current New York City Comptroller John Liu also served in the city council from 2002 to 2009 as its sole Asian American member.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Born on May 26, 1954 in Hong Kong[2][3] as the third of five children and the only daughter in the family, Chin immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in 1963. Her father, who arrived to the U.S. before his family did, was an undocumented worker, working as a waiter in the Bronx; his experiences inspired her to advocate for immigration reform during her political tenure.[4]

Chin grew up in Chinatown and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and the City College of New York with a degree in education. She worked for 14 years at LaGuardia Community College's Division of Adult and Continuing Education. She is married to Alan Tung, a public school teacher. Their son, Kevin, also graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. He completed his studies at Syracuse University, and is now studying photography in Santa Barbara, California.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

Chin has been a member of several public service groups and organizations. In 1974, she was a founding member of Asian Americans for Equality, a group dedicated to "empowering Asian Americans and others in need",[6] and she served as the board's president from 1982 to 1986. She was the chairperson of the New York Immigration Coalition, a policy and advocacy organization which works on issues concerning immigrants and refugees.[7] She was a board member of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, an affordable housing non-profit organization.[8] Chin was also a founding member of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, a group that was formed in 2006 to "rebuild Chinatown following 9/11, and to preserve the neighborhood's unique culture while ensuring its vitality in the future."[9]

In local and state politics, Chin was a member of Manhattan Community Board 1 and Manhattan Community Board 3, and was elected to the New York State Democratic Committee for two terms from 1986 to 1990.[3]

Election to City Council[edit]

Prior to winning the 2009 city council election, Chin had run and lost in the Democratic Party primary election for the District 1 seat in 1991, 1993, and 2001. She began to campaign on a full-time basis two years before the 2009 Democratic primary election held on September 15.[4] By the end of August 2009, Chin's fund-raising efforts amounted to more than $116,000, and she also qualified for $88,550 in public funding. Her campaign benefited from a large number of Chinese-speaking volunteers who urged the non-English-speaking residents of Chinatown to vote. In a primary that had a small turn-out, she won the Democratic nomination with 39% of the vote, ousting two-term incumbent Alan Gerson. Chin earned 4,541 votes to Gerson's 3,520; the other three candidates, PJ Kim, Pete Gleason, and Arthur Gregory won 1,927 votes, 1,293 votes, and 235 votes, respectively.[10] Campaigning on the issues of affordable housing, improving infrastructure, immigration reform, and better services for senior citizens,[11] Chin won the general election held on November 3 against Republican candidate Irene Horvath in a landslide victory, carrying 86% of the vote.[12] The district she represents includes SoHo, NoHo, TriBeCa, the Washington Square area, South Village, Battery Park City, the Wall Street area, the South Street Seaport area, the City Hall area, Little Italy, Chinatown, and Lower East Side.[13] Chin is the first Asian American woman elected to the New York City Council as well as the first Asian American and Chinese American elected to represent Chinatown.[4]

Chin speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, and Taishanese,[citation needed] and has stated that her ethnicity helped her win the district that includes Chinatown. In her words, many new immigrants and seniors do not speak English, and appreciated that they could speak to her directly and "talk to a City Council member without having to go through an interpreter."[11] Hunter College professor and sociologist Peter Kwong, who has written books on Chinese Americans, said that Chin's election victory was a "milestone in an increasingly active Asian American community" and a "special moment in Chinatown history". Margaret Fung, head of Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national Asian American civil rights group,[14] described Chin's win as a "significant step forward for Asian American political representation".[4]

In 2013, Council Member Chin ran for reelection for the New York City Council. She received an endorsement from the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York prior to the September 2013 Democratic Party Primary.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2009 Election Results". The New York Times. 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  2. ^ a b Shaila K. Dewan (2001-01-21). "At 56, a New Capricorn Blows Out a Candle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "About Margaret". Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Alan Silverleib (2009-10-30). "Woman poised to be 1st Chinese-American to represent N.Y.'s Chinatown". CNN. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  5. ^ Calvin Prashad (2010-01-02). "John Liu, Peter Koo, Margaret Chin Sworn Into New York City Offices". Asian Pacific Americans for Progress. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Who We Are". Asian Americans for Equality. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  7. ^ "About the NYIC". New York Immigration Coalition. Retrieved 2009-11-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ "ASSOCIATION FOR NEIGHBORHOOD AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENT". Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. Retrieved 2009-11-04. [dead link]
  9. ^ "About Us". Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  10. ^ Carl Glassman and April Koral (September 2009). "Chin Wins City Council Primary". The Tribeca Trib. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  11. ^ a b Suzanne Ma (2009-11-04). "Chinatown's Margaret Chin Makes New York City History". DNAinfo. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  12. ^ "2009 Election Results". The New York Times. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  13. ^ "District 1". New York City Council. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  14. ^ "About AALDEF". Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  15. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alan Gerson
New York City Council District 1