Volume 79, Number 30 | December 30 - January 5, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photos by Josh Rogers

Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin took a ceremonial oath of office Tues., Dec. 22, at City Hall with her husband Alan Tung and their son Kevin by her side, above. Some of the more than 200 people in the audience, below.

A full house watches Chin’s historic swearing-in

By Josh Rogers

More than 200 people packed City Hall’s City Council Chamber Tuesday night Dec. 22 to celebrate the swearing-in of City Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin, who will be the first Asian-American to represent Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Although she won’t take office until Jan. 1, it was Chin’s second oath of the day. The City Clerk did the first earlier, and Judge Peter Tom did the ceremonial honors for the crowd, some of whom had to go up to the balcony to get a seat.

Chin was jovial, bantering in Mandarin, Cantonese and English before the ceremony, at which she thanked all of the elected leaders who came, as well as many of the attendees.

Councilmember Alan Gerson, who lost the Democratic primary to Chin in September, congratulated her, as did several Downtown politicians who endorsed Gerson: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who did not endorse in the primary, also attended.

Many of the politicians recalled meeting Chin almost 20 years ago when she first ran for Council, and praised her long record of fighting for affordable housing and immigrant rights.

Nadler said the “right wing” keeps knocking community organizers, but, he pointed out, “It’s exactly what we need more of in this country… . That’s what Margaret has done all these years — been a community organizer and advocate for immigrants, for working-class people and for the people in Chinatown, especially.”

He and others pointed out that she will be the first Asian-American woman ever elected to the City Council.

“It took us a long time, but in the Chinese community we really just started to register to vote and get involved not that long ago,” Chin said. “Today we are a growing community and we wanted to continue to prosper.”

The City Council’s District 1 also includes the western part of Lower Manhattan, and Chin made sure to acknowledge individual attendees from those neighborhoods. After she mentioned Ruth Ohman, a senior citizens leader from Gateway Plaza in Tribeca, she turned to Gerson and said: “Alan, I promise to continue to take care of them.”

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