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Korean-American Becomes Mayor of NJ Town

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The son of a Korean who emigrated to the U.S. to run a dry-cleaning business for 20 years has become the mayor of the U.S. town of Edison, New Jersey.

Jun Choi on Tuesday won 50.5 percent of votes as Democrat Party candidate in the mayoral election. Choi becomes the first Korean-American to win a mayoral election on the U.S. mainland; former Representative Jay Kim is as one-time mayor of Diamond Bar, California, but he was not elected but handed a rotating appointment. Last year, a second-generation Korean-American, Harry Kim, was elected as mayor in Hawaii.

Running in a hotly contested race, Choi defeated his rival, independent candidate William Stephens, by only 270 votes, taking 12,800 out of 25,400 votes cast.

Edison, one of New Jersey¡¯s five major towns, has a population of 100,000, 40 percent of whom are Asian. Koreans number around 3,000. Choi defeated incumbent Edison Mayor George Spadoro, who had been in office for 12 years, by 1,000 votes in the June Democrat primary. At the time, anchors of local broadcast stations made racist remarks to the effect that putting colored people in charge would be a bad idea, thus practically handing Choi the nomination on a platter.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

(News item) 11/9/2005