Bike-Friendly Flushing Council Candidate Accuses Community Board of Trying to Sabotage Campaign
A prominent Flushing council candidate who has been an outspoken supporter of the Main Street busway claims community board members are trying to boot him from the panel in an effort to derail his campaign just days before the election.
Candidate John Choe, who is running to replace term-limited Council Member Peter Koo and has been endorsed by StreetsPAC, told Streetsblog that members of Community Board 7 are dredging up old and slanderous accusations to sabotage his chances of winning — in part because he’s advocated for the busway and other improvements, like bike lanes and bus lanes, which he says the car-friendly board has long opposed.
“I’m one of the only people that has stood up for protected bike lanes and more street safety infrastructure in Flushing and have been a vocal supporter of the busway,” Choe told Streetsblog last week, after the Queens Daily Eagle first reported the board’s attempt to oust him. “The (community board) leadership has been resisting these types of improvements for many years, and sometimes I feel like I’m the lone voice on the community board when it comes to raising awareness about traffic violence and the fact that the board has done nothing.”
According to CB7 Vice Chair Chuck Apelian, the board’s attempt to remove Choe has nothing to do with his policy positions, but because he violated City Charter rules, including by fundraising, fabricating a government agency Facebook page, and accusing board members of being corrupt.
“He’s being removed for cause because of his actions and behaviors,” said Apelian. “It has nothing to do with his positions on actions or politics at all. He solicited campaign funds from fellow board members [and] he continues to accuse board members of being corrupt without explanation.”
Apelian — who added that he was also once a supporter of Choe, but no longer is — said Choe’s alleged misconduct has been happening for a while, and that the board has finally moved to take action. Choe was reappointed to the board by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards in April. Koo declined to reappoint Choe, according to the Queens Eagle.
According to Apelian, the executive board voted unanimously last month to start the action against Choe. The full board is expected to vote on whether to proceed with the process of expelling him on June 14, and if two-thirds approve, then a special committee will be created specifically to look into the allegations and recommend whether or not to oust Choe. Following the committee’s vote, the full board will vote to decide his fate on the board, Apelian said.
But Choe contends the allegations against him are bogus, and were fabricated not just because of his transportation policies from which the board differs, but also because of his efforts to make the board more transparent about how it spends money and hires staff. And in regards to soliciting campaign funds, Choe said he reached out to his entire phone book for donations, which likely included some members of the board, but he did not list himself as a board member or coerce anyone.
“These are trumped-up phony charges that they are trying to smear me with right before an election. None of this is new, the incidents they are referring to actually happened months and years ago,” he said. “I don’t even mention I’m a community board member. These are bogus charges against me.”
And Choe says he’s particularly miffed about the allegations against him given that a fellow board member, Kim Ohanian, walked away scot-free after her inappropriate comments in 2019, when she said that some pedestrians “deserve to get run over.” The board took no action against her, and the borough president reappointed her in April.
“That was outrageous,” Choe said. “She was basically justifying people dying on our city streets.”
But Apelian views the incidents entirely differently, and says Ohanian made just “one comment in bad taste,” where as Choe continues to show bad behavior worthy of expulsion.
Choe, who is one of seven progressive council hopefuls the real-estate backed super PAC Common Sense NYC is spending money to oppose, is running for the seat against candidates Dao Yin, Hailing Chen, Ellen Young, Sandra Ung, Anthony Miranda, and Neng Wang.