The Woman Behind Assemblyman Ron Kim

Xi-Lou Alison Tan, wife of Assemblyman Ron Kim of Flushing. (Photo via World Journal)

“When I met him, he was 30, unemployed, with no money and living with his parents. Still, I fell for him,” said Xi-Lou Alison Tan on Feb. 10 about her husband, the state Assemblyman Ron Kim. When Tan, who herself is also quite accomplished, talked about their marriage, she hid no pride and happiness. Tan said Kim is her best friend, counsellor, and guardian angel. She said she has prepared a good Valentine’s Day gift for her husband, who is now ready to bring his political career to a higher level by running for a citywide office this year.

Tan came to the U.S. with her father Leshan Tan and mother Heng Xue from Kunming, Yunnan Province of China when she was 7. Yunnan is a diverse place with many ethnic minorities. Being used to diversity, when Tan just came to the U.S. she thought it was only another province in China and her classmates were just speaking a different dialect. Without feeling the cultural barrier, Tan quickly adapted to her American life. “I thought English was a Chinese dialect. So I learned it quickly,” said Tan.

Tan and Kim have some similar experience in immigration. Both of them arrived at this country at the age of 7. They are from China and Korea respectively, but being Asian, they don’t feel any cultural gap between them.

Tan said she met Kim at a party. “He was very different. When I met him for the first time, I immediately felt his confidence, although he had no job and lived with his parents then,” said Tan. “Other men only knew how to show off their money and cars in front of me.”

Tan said the longer she knows Kim, the more she is attracted by his passion. “Almost everyone who grew up in Flushing tries to run away. They move to Manhattan or other places,” said Tan. But Kim moved back to Flushing after college. He tries to bring the vision he gained in college back to the community and to make the place where he grew up a better one.

A year after Tan and Kim were engaged, Kim decided to run for assemblyman. For the first time, Tan became a volunteer of Kim’s campaign. During the four months, she knocked close to a thousand doors to talk to the voters for him. “We were lovers. But I was also his free labor. We didn’t have much time. A few of us divided the district into several parts and each took care of one part to distribute flyers and talk to the voters,” said Tan.

Now, although they are no longer a crazily in love new couple, Kim always holds Tan’s hand and walks on the side facing the coming traffic every time when they cross the road, or when the snow covers the road. “This is his habit,” said Tan.

But Tan is not a docile woman who only lives behind her man. The Cornell graduate kept her full-time job even after the birth of their two daughters. She is busy as a manager at Ackman-Ziff real estate company. And the children are cared for by their two sets grandparents.

Tan said she and Kim both support each other’s work. When they face challenges at work, they always share them with the other.  “The most touching thing is that he told me if he had to choose between my work and his work, he’d sacrifice his dream for me,” Tan said.

Tan said her husband is not a very romantic person. The Valentine’s Day gifts he gave to her were always flowers or chocolate. “I have never bought him a gift. But this year, I’ll give him a surprise,” she said.

Then she added, both of them are too busy all the time. And maybe the best gift they can get on Valentine’s Day is to take the day off and to have a good nap.

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