Paul Massey Visits Chinatown

Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey dining in Chinatown recently with community leaders. (Photo by April Xu via Sing Tao Daily)

Paul Massey, the Republican businessman who recently announced that he would challenge the incumbent Bill de Blasio and run for mayor, has been going to the five boroughs to campaign. On March 17, he came to Chinatown, the final stop of his first-round campaign tour. Accompanied by Yin Chau Tsang, a senior community leader of the Fujianese community, Massey visited businesses here including the New Triple Eight Palace, New York Mart supermarket, and Dim Sum Go Go, to talk to small business owners and learn their concerns.

Massey, the chief executive officer of Massey Knakal, one of the biggest real estate brokerage firms in the city, obtained the endorsement of the Independence Party in January, and is now seeking to be the Republican Party candidate. He has no experience in politics. But his ability to raise money is quite impressive. According to Campaign Finance Board records, Massey raised $1.6 million in the second half of 2016 through January, $600,000 more than de Blasio in the same period. Half of his donations were from donors living outside of New York City. In the past two months, Massey’s campaign raised $900,000 more. Massey said he plans to spend $1.5 million out of his own pocket for the campaign. That will bring the total funds for his campaign to $4 million.

Massey pulled no punches in discussing the current mayor during his Chinatown trip. He said that unlike de Blasio, he doesn’t accept donations from special interest groups. So he would have no favor to return when pushing for education reform and affordable housing. “I am an ordinary person. I understand the lives of ordinary people. I know how they have to work 24/7 to make ends meet,” said Massey.

Chinatown is not unfamiliar territory to Massey. “I am a realtor. My company has teams in all communities. I have been working with Chinatown for more than 30 years. I hope I can make a better life for people in Chinatown,” said Massey. “My work experience has paved the road for me to run for mayor. I feel lucky.”

Massey said many business owners in Chinatown shared with him their concerns about Chinatown’s decline and the thinning crowds on the street. Veronica Leung, owner of Dim Sum Go Go, told Massey that rents in Chinatown are too high and many businesses have been pushed out. Massey said he understands that high rents “have prompted many businesses to shut their stores in Chinatown and move to Queens and Brooklyn. And people in Chinatown are trying to revitalize the neighborhood, and to attract more people to come to this neighborhood.” He said a major part of his political proposal is to help small businesses in the city to succeed.

Massey said schools and education are another focus of his. He said the test scores, graduation rates and the readiness for higher education of New York students are unsatisfactory. He supports charter schools, after-school programs, and summer school programs. “Every neighborhood deserves different kinds of schools that suit its needs,” said Massey. “We should also offer strong support to teachers to maintain their passion about education.”

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