The Democratic primary in the 19th has a few Democrats angling for position, and you’ve read about most of them. Kevin Kim is a young Democrat, born in Bayside, with a great deal of energy. Kim has a lot to say about public education. While the unending drumbeat about mayoral control dominates these discussions (and this column is certainly and proudly to blame), Kim feels that parental involvement in education is missing in the current form of mayoral control.
“I think that accountability is important, however, Mayor Bloomberg took the parental voice out of school districts,” says Kim. “In our district, a lot of parents are involved, which is really important .”
Kim would like to see a Board of Education where the mayor would get six appointees, each borough president would get one appointee, and parents would have a representative as well.
Kim feels that while charter schools have been successful because they run under less of a bureaucratic strain, there is a way to incorporate those ideas into the public school system.
“I think the main appeal of charter schools is that they allow for creativity without a lot of bureaucracy. If it’s at the expense of the public education system, however, then I do not agree with that because in Queens we are often teaching immigrants and we need those funds,” explains Kim.
Kevin Kim is part of a new generation of young politicians that are very well polished and educated. No longer is the City Council member simply a civic-minded patriarchal figure, but someone that can clearly have a big career some place else and instead looks to work in government.
There is a change in the type of people that go into government today, both as civil servants and as politicians. People now go into government, as opposed to settling for it. They focus on working in government early, instead of taking the government job because there was just nothing else. This has resulted in a better government on all levels. Of course, whenever government fails, it's front page news, so it’s easy to be critical.
The issue of overdevelopment is a big deal in this distrit. Few candidates take a stance that endorses heavy development. The politicians that are in favor of overdevelopment show that support behind closed doors. Kim feels that the beauty of the area is at stake with overdevelopment, but the infrastructure is vulnerable as well.
"You see the effect of overdevelopment; it ruins the characteristics of the area,” said Kim. “The City Council has to be very active in fighting for the protection of the shoreline. The major reason that creates overdevelopment is dangerous in that the sewage system cannot handle it. The infrastructure wasn’t created with all of these multi-unit buildings in mind. We need to strictly enforce the zoning laws.”
Kevin Kim knows that his district is a middle-of-the-road district when it comes to politics. He knows there are a lot of independent voters to which he needs to appeal. But he certainly is making clear that he is serious by raising more money than anyone in the race – possibly a testament to two growing constituencies in the area – young voters and Asian Americans.
I could write that he knows the issues, but they all sound like they know the issues when you speak to them. I could say he’s a nice guy, but they all have to be nice to some degree. But Kevin Kim did talk to me about city policy only hours after his wife gave birth to their first child. This is a new generation of politicians.