Cantonese restaurant

Iwen Chu is set to win Brooklyn’s new Senate District 27

If you live in one of the areas along Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, where there has been an incredible influx of Asian residents, you likely now reside in a neighborhood that was designed to give Brooklyn’s Asian community a voice. in the New York Senate. And that voice is almost certain to be Iwen Chu.

Iwen Chu was born in Taiwan and worked as a television journalist before coming to New York at the age of 27 to study sociology at Brooklyn College, a CUNY school. She then worked for the city’s Chinese newspapers, reporting on the same communities she later came to help by working for Assemblyman Peter Abbate as his chief of staff for the past 10 years. She went through Irene.

Now she is running to represent most of Brooklyn’s Asian community in the Senate. “One thing I can do to make them proud is put my Chinese name up there. They can see there’s a Chinese state senator there.”

The district, nestled between redesigned SD22 (Senator Andrew Gounardes) and SD26 (Senator Simcha Felder) is 46% Asian, 30% white and 18% Hispanic, and voters in the new district voted 67% for the President Biden in 2020. Chu is toeing the generally progressive lines of New York’s Democrats who favor the interests of its large, increasingly voting immigrant community. When she announced her run in February, no one else did. She is running unopposed in the primary, with just about every politician representing Brooklyn throwing their support behind her.

This creates high expectations, but Ms. Chu is a formidable candidate. She speaks Taiwanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin, in addition to English, and knows both the community and how Albany works. And she lived the experience of immigrating to this city – arriving not fluent in English, struggling to navigate and make sense of life in the city that is busy, impatient and so dear. And in many ways more backward than Taiwan.

Ms. Chu supports universal health care and child care, building more affordable housing, especially for seniors, expanding talent and talent programs, simplifying property tax administration, and extending support to the restaurant industry.

We talked last week about why she runs. Below is our conversation, slightly edited for length and clarity.

Iwen Chu /campaign photo