Young Korean American Runs for Mayor of Edgewater, NJ

Jin Han Kim (Photo via The Korea Times)

[Editor’s note: The story has been updated to correct the words within one of Jin Han Kim’s quotes to “elected officials” from “politicians.” In addition, the Kim campaign has provided its own translation of the direct quotes in the original article.]

“I hope to bring positive changes to our town governance that has been neglecting the voice of our fellow residents.”

The challenge of 25-year-old Korean Jin Han Kim, who declared his candidacy for mayor of Edgewater, New Jersey, is drawing attention. The question is whether Kim, a young, grass-roots oriented politician, can achieve another election miracle, as Congressman Andy Kim (D.- 3rddistrict, NJ) did.

Kim, who is running in Democratic primary for the mayor of Edgewater, New Jersey on June 4, will face the current Mayor Michael McPartland… (…) it is not an easy challenge for the political novice Kim.

In an interview with The Korea Times on April 20, Kim said, “I am committed to rebuilding our town government so that it serves and represents our families and our community. My commitment to restore this fundamental principle of governance to our town is what inspired me to run for Mayor.”

Kim said that he had never thought of becoming a politician until he moved to Edgewater in 2017. Then he opened his eyes to community issues as he learned of the “Quanta Superfund site,” located right next to his home.

Kim said: “The controversial cleanup process at the Quanta Superfund Site has been digging up contaminated soil and releasing toxic chemicals that continue to threaten thousands of families living in and passing by the surrounding areas. And it was evident that our town government lacks sensible plans to address this public health crisis.” Kim added: “Organizing a community coalition to address this public health concern, I’ve met countless families suffering from this issue, and this sparked my sense of urgency and agency to rebuild a town government that sincerely cares about the community and its residents.”

So far, Kim has played a role in representing the rights of residents to the town government. He has consistently attended major meetings of city government and also played a role in conveying key points from the meetings to the residents. “I have been attending borough council meetings and raised my sincere concerns for our community again and again, but the elected officials simply refused to respond.” Kim said, adding: “It was evident to me that we need a new town government that serves and represents its residents, and I hope to contribute a small part in the process by seeking to serve as a public servant.”

Although Kim is young, he is an expert in local government policy. He currently works in Manhattan  providing policy consulting to local governments.

He also has a thorough understanding of major issues as he has delved deeper into community concerns. Residents from various backgrounds, including whites and Koreans, who have engaged with Kim as he campaigns door-to-door, are helping Kim’s election campaign.

Kim, a 1.5 generation Korean American who immigrated to America in the sixth grade, speaks Korean fluently and majored in economics, psychology and Chinese at Cornell University. He said: “Edgewater is also home to many Korean American families. I hope that many of them come out to vote on the election day to make an informed decision for our community.”

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