On Nov. 8, voters in New York’s 49th Assembly District handed a comfortable victory to Lester Chang, who defeated longtime Democrat incumbent Peter J. Abbate Jr., the district’s representative since 1987.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, Chang walked away with 50.29 percent of the vote, while his opponent garnered 45.61 percent.
Active registered voters in the district number 50,027 of which 14,272 chose to vote representing a 28.5 percent voter turnout rate.
Chang ran a campaign with a focus on tackling surging crime rates in the Empire State and providing a quality public school education for all New York students.
During his campaign, Chang told Vision Times that “as soon as I’m elected” he will petition the Governor to repeal the cashless bail scheme, ask that the state declare a state of emergency over the crime plaguing the state and recommend the mobilization of 3500 to 5000 national guardsmen to patrol the streets of New York City.
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Chang argued that mobilizing the National Guard, to address the crime crisis, is not without precedent, pointing out that “in the major thoroughfare, in the airports right now, there’s approximately 600 national guards on patrol,” a remnant of 9/11 mobilization.
He is not advocating for martial law, but for more support for law enforcement in New York City’s subways and on major commuter routes.
Abbate (73), who has served the district for 35 years, did little campaigning, perhaps confident that he would be reelected on his record alone.
Abbate recently made headlines for removing campaign signs for Republican gubernatorial candidate Representative Lee Zeldin, arguing that the placement of the signs was “breaking the law,” Newsweek reported.
Videos surfaced online of Abbate removing the signs.
The now-defeated Assemblyman said at the time, “He shouldn’t do it. He’s breaking the law,” adding that, “You can quote me on that saying I think it would be a disgrace for someone running for governor who’s breaking the law before he even takes office.”
“This leads to bigger crime. That’s the problem we have. People are not enforcing the law,” he said.
Zeldin failed in his bid to become New York’s next governor, though he was able to get 47.02 percent of the vote to Hochul’s 52.16 percent, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
A quality public school education
Chang is a vocal supporter of school choice for New York families and is expected to table a proposal to implement an Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC), something he calls “a capital investment” in education.
“The EITC will provide more choices to families who are not happy with local public schools, for whatever reason they have,” he says on his campaign website.
“Parents need real choices because children learn differently. Getting everyone, including those who can’t afford private school, the best possible educational opportunities, is the best investment we can make in our children,” he argues.
Chang also favors merit-based admission to specialized high schools and promised to fight to preserve “the current admissions criteria and demanding curricula of our city’s top-tier magnet high schools.”
Top of mind for Chang is to establish dozens of charter schools in the district he represents.
Chang blames unions for the lack of charter school choice in his district, a district that doesn’t have a single charter school.
“Most of the people who work in a charter school are not union teachers,” he told Vision Times.
He says he will call for 50 new charter schools to be established in the district over the next few years to allow more school choice for parents and to provide students with learning opportunities that are tailor made for their learning styles.
Chang will be sworn in on Jan. 3, 2023 to serve a two-year term as representative for New York’s 49th Assembly District.