margaret-chin-councilwoman-nyc_.jpgFor the first time in its 150 year history, Chinatown will have a Chinese-American representative on the City Council, as Margaret Chin beat her Republican opponent in a landslide in yesterdays election. It is a dramatic win in New York City, where no Asian-Americans held elected office just eight years ago, even though the downtown Manhattan neighborhood is one of the biggest Chinese communities outside Asia.

Chin beat incumbent Alan Gerson in a Democratic run-off on Sept. 29, after a recent primary in which another Asian-American was running in a four-way race for comptroller, the city’s chief financial officer and one of its top three elected positions. Several other Asian-Americans were seeking council seats, and the poll brought out many first-time Asian voters.

Chin, whose family emigrated from Hong Kong in 1963, when she was 9, is a community organizer and immigrant advocate who speaks three Chinese dialects.

“People want to get involved and want to be part of the mainstream and want to make sure that the community that they come from is represented,” Chin said. “The dynamics of the city are changing.”

Margaret Chin grew up in NYC Chinatown and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and from the City College of New York (CCNY) with a degree in education.

For the past 11 years Chin worked as the deputy executive director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), an organization that she helped start while in college. She had run unsuccessfully for City Council in 1991, 1993 and 2001.

Margaret Chin is married to Alan Tung, a public school teacher at P.S. 3 in Greenwich Village. Their son Kevin graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and Syracuse University. Chin’s mother is a retired garment worker who still lives in Chinatown.

In Chinatown, Chinese-Americans have run for City Council before in the district which includes “Little Italy” — including Chin three times. But several factors, including low Asian turnout in past primaries and multiple Asian candidates splitting the vote, prevented their victories, reports

(Biographical information from

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