The Queens Republican Party is now officially down one member as City Councilman Peter Koo switched sides this week, dropping his affiliation with the Queens GOP and joining the Democratic party.
The move was made official on Monday.
Koo—elected to the city council in 2009 as a Republican councilor for District 20, represents Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale and part of Whitestone—released a statement explaining his decision to cross party lines.
In his statement, Koo said his decision came after “serious consideration and great deliberation” with advisors, family and friends.
Koo highlighted his support of immigrant oriented legislation such as the Dream Act, which allows immigrants to apply for state financed scholarships and aid at state universities. A Hong Kong immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1971, Koo stated he wished to do more to advocate for “common sense legislation” regarding immigration.
“I want to help my fellow Asian American elected officials and all future leaders to ascend to the highest levels of government,”he stated. “As a democrat, I will continue to empower our newly emerging immigrant communities and help new Americans to prosper and become productive members of our society.”
Noting that he has supported Democrats in the past on certain issues, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, city Comptroller John Liu, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Koo stated, “I will continue my support of them and any dedicated person who puts ‘people and not politics’ first.”
Koo’s term expires at the end of 2013.
In an interview posted by NY1, Republican city Councilman Eric Ulrich (District32) criticized the GOP leaders, suggesting that strife within the party led to Koo’s decision to change sides.
“The state of disarray that the party has been in, failed leadership at the local level, and also an inability to settle some long standing disputes that certain people had…that did not help Peter,” he told NY1.
On his Twitter account, Democrat city Councilman Mark Weprin (District 23) welcomed the news. “Congratulations to my friend Council Member Peter Koo, New York City’s newest Democrat. Welcome to the team!” he wrote on Monday.
By Jean-Paul Salamanca