In a race that could have political implications around the Brooklyn’s outer bay from Bensonhurst across Bath Beach and Gravesend into Coney Island, Chinese-American Billy Thai announced today he is running against longtime incumbent Charles Ragusa for the male 47th Assembly District Democratic leadership position.
Ragusa comes out of Assembly Member Bill Colton‘s United Progressive Democratic Club as does City Council Member Mark Treyger and female district leader Nancy Tong.
While both Colton and Treyger have large Chinese-American constituencies, and both have been outspoken advocates for the Chinese-Americans they represent, there is growing discontent in the Chinese-American community that they want one of their own elected that is unconnected to the Colton-Treyger machine.
“The time has come for the Chinese American community of South Brooklyn to finally have an elected Chinese American-born elected official. The Chinese community makes up a huge portion of the population in the 47th Assembly District and deserves to have representation that is devoted to the community and not the party bosses,” said Thai.
“I am running for Male Democratic District Leader of the 47th Assembly District so that the Chinese community will finally have one of their own fighting for and advocating on behalf of the Chinese American community in the 47th Assembly District as well as giving the Chinese American community a much needed voice within the Brooklyn Democratic Party,” he added.
Thai is the son of Chinese immigrants and was born and raised in Bensonhurst. He went to public schools and graduated from both Brooklyn Tech High School and NYU Polytechnic with an electrical engineering degree, and currently works at Con Edison.
Thai’s campaign is also aligned with Warren Chan, executive director of the Asian Community United Society (ACUS), which is mentioned on Thai’s campaign website.
Chan has long been an outspoken critic of Colton and Treyger, and believes in the growth of Chinese American empowerment in Southern Brooklyn, which despite having a large and growing Chinese American population, has no elected officials in directly in government to represent them.
“We’re going to focus on this race. This is a start and we’re going to build momentum. Things are going to change,” Chan said.