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Margaret Chin

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Margaret Chin
Margaret Chin 2011.jpg
Chin in 2011
Member of the New York City Council from the 1st District
Assumed office
January 1, 2010
Preceded byAlan Gerson
Personal details
Born (1954-05-26) May 26, 1954 (age 64)
Hong Kong
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Alan Tung
Alma materBronx High School of Science
City College of New York
WebsiteOfficial website
Margaret Chin
Traditional Chinese陳倩雯
Simplified Chinese陈倩雯

Margaret Chin (born May 26, 1954) is a Taishanese Chinese-American politician serving as a council member for the 1st District of the New York City Council. A Democrat, she and Queens Council member Peter Koo comprise the Asian American delegation of the city council.

The district includes all or parts of Battery Park City, Chinatown, Civic Center, East Village, Ellis Island, Financial District, Governors Island, Greenwich Village, Liberty Island, Little Italy, Lower East Side, NoHo, Nolita, SoHo, Tribeca, and the West Village.

Early life and career[edit]

Born on May 26, 1954 in Hong Kong 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, was an undocumented worker, working as a waiter in the Bronx; his experiences inspired her to advocate for immigration reform during her political tenure.

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.

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",[1] 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.[2] She was a board member of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, an affordable housing non-profit organization.[3] 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."[4]

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.

Chin 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."[5] 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,[6] described Chin's win as a "significant step forward for Asian American political representation".

New York 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.

In a primary that had a low 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.[7] Campaigning on the issues of affordable housing, improving infrastructure, immigration reform, and better services for senior citizens,[5] Chin won the general election held on November 3 against Republican candidate Irene Horvath in a landslide victory, carrying 86% of the vote.[8]

In 2013, Chin ran for reelection. She received an endorsement from the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York prior to the September 2013 Democratic Party primary[9] and received funding from REBNY for mailings.[10] She was challenged in the primary by Democrat Jenifer Rajkumar, a Lower Manhattan District Leader, in a widely publicized race. Chin won with 58.5% of the vote.[11]

Chin retained the right to run a third term despite New Yorkers voting against the concept in 2010, because she was already in.[10] In 2017, Chin ran for re-election. She won her primary with 46% of the vote against her main challenger, Christopher Marte, who received 44%, who later ran against her in the general election on the Independence party line. Chin won the general election with 49.8% of the vote.

Election history[edit]

New York City Council District 1: results 1991-2017
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd party Party Votes Pct 3rd party Party Votes Pct
1991 Kathryn Freed 5,717 51% Fred Teng 2,630 23% Margaret Chin Liberal 2,853 25%
2001 Alan Gerson 12,209 47% Jordan Kaufman 3,349 13% Margaret Chin Liberal 4,178 16%
2009 Margaret Chin 18,750 86% Irene Horvath 3,093 14%
2013 Margaret Chin 16,976 99%
2017 Margaret Chin 11,468 49.8% Bryan Jung 2,014 8.75% Aaron Foldenauer Liberal 1,103 4.40% Christopher Marte Independence 8,502 36.92%


The Villager wrote that Chin didn't deserve a third term, saying "While she has ably served some portions of her district, she has alienated her constituents in large swaths of it, including the Village and Soho, as well as the Lower East Side waterfront area where enormous 'supertall' towers are now beginning to sprout out of control. Chin has repeatedly failed to stand with residents in these neighborhoods on issues that are vitally important to their quality of life. And those times when she has made a show of support, it has always come too late — long after the time for action has passed and when it could have actually meant or done something. (See Niketown in Soho, Met Foods supermarket in Little Italy, etc. …)" It wrote further, "Chin has been both antagonistic and unresponsive to large segments of her community. She has dodged debates with her opponents — ours wasn’t the only one she avoided — and at the only town hall she has held during her time in office, the public’s cherished First Amendment right to express their views and disseminate information was stifled in a manner one would associate with a fascistic dictatorship."[10]

Personal life[edit]

Chin 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.


  1. ^ "Who We Are". Asian Americans for Equality. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  2. ^ "About the NYIC". New York Immigration Coalition. Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2009-11-04. Template:Date=2010-11-01
  3. ^ "ASSOCIATION FOR NEIGHBORHOOD AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENT". Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  4. ^ "About Us". Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
  5. ^ a b Suzanne Ma (2009-11-04). "Chinatown's Margaret Chin Makes New York City History". DNAinfo. Archived from the original on 2009-11-07. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  6. ^ "About AALDEF". Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  7. ^ Carl Glassman and April Koral (September 2009). "Chin Wins City Council Primary". The Tribeca Trib. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  8. ^ "2009 Election Results". The New York Times. 2009-11-09. Archived from the original on 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c "Christopher Marte for Council in District 1". The Villager. 8 September 2017.
  11. ^

External links[edit]

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