Before you read:
- New York Democrats cite residency issues in push to block Asian Republican elected to state assembly
- Embattled Republican Assemblyman-elect insists ‘I’m a Brooklynite’ in hearing challenging residency
The GOP’s Lester Chang was sworn into New York’s Assembly on Tuesday amid ongoing challenges to the legitimacy of his election over residency issues.
Chang — an Afghan War veteran who has worked in banking, finance and global logistics — won last year’s Nov. 8 election to represent District 49 in Albany. Securing 52 percent of the votes, he defeated Democratic incumbent Peter Abbate, a Brooklyn native who had held the office for the last 36 years.
The Assembly’s Democratic supermajority began to challenge Chang’s eligibility only after he won the race.
According to a Judiciary Committee report, Chang was registered to vote in Manhattan before transferring to Brooklyn in February, falling short of a rule that requires candidates to live in the borough they are running in for at least a year prior to election.
In a legislative hearing last month, the Lower East Side native stated that while he was registered to vote in Manhattan, his “physical intent was in Brooklyn.” He claimed that he had been living at his childhood home on East 29th St. in Midwood caring for his ailing mother for more than a year.
Standing ovation for Lester Chang as he is about to get sworn in to the state Assembly as Democrats mull whether he should remain in office pic.twitter.com/Bt2kFsgrZt
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) January 3, 2023
Democrats reportedly met during a closed-door conference Tuesday to discuss the issue, but failed to reach a consensus.
As a result, Chang took his oath of office uncontested. He is now the first Asian American elected in Brooklyn to represent an ever-growing Asian American community.
“I am confident. I am duly elected by the people. Supported by the people, from the people,” Chang said after being sworn in. “That’s my strength. That’s where it comes from. Everything else, my legal team, will address those issues.”
When asked whether anti-Asian bias could be influencing his critics, Chang stated he hopes that is not the case.
“I hope not. I really hope not,” Chang said, according to Spectrum News 1. “Because that’s really against our community. I really hope it’s not. But if so, then my community, the Asian community, throughout the whole state and the United States, will address that issue.”
Democrats are expected to convene once again, this time to discuss ousting Chang from the chamber. If he is expelled, Gov. Kathy Hochul will call for a special election.
Backed by his party, Chang said he is “ready to fight.”
“We have other tools. We have the court system,” he said, according to the New York Post.
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