Businessman and realtor Nabaraj KC is one of five running for the eastern Queens seat.
A version of this article first appeared at Khasokhas.com
Nabaraj KC is an immigrant who came to the United States from Nepal, about 8,000 miles away, about 20 years ago with an American dream. He is the first Nepali American to run for the City Council in New York City, the world’s commercial capital.
KC is running in the Democratic primary on June 22 for City Council District 19, which includes the northeast Queens neighborhoods of College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Malba, North Flushing, and Auburndale.
“I was born in Nepal. I have seen both sorrow and happiness. So I can understand the real problems of immigrants. That is why I have decided to run for office,” KC says.
He believes his candidacy will inspire immigrants from other minority communities to get involved in New York politics, even though immigrants of Nepali descent have not yet moved forward. “I consider myself a suitable candidate because Queens in New York itself is an immigrant home,” he said. “And I’m very excited.”
He needs to beat four other candidates in the Democratic primary in June to run in the November election. Most prominent might be Tony Avella, who held the Council seat from 2002 through 2009 before four terms as a state Senator. Avella, who was a member of the controversial Independent Democratic Conference in Albany, made a long-shot bid for the mayoralty in 2009.
Another candidate, Richard Lee, who was recently a budget official for interim Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, has the most campaign funds, with $195,000 at last count—twice what any other candidate reported. Longtime political aide turned public-relations executive Austin Shafran and retired NYPD officer turned education leader Adriana Aviles are also in the mix. Vickie Paladino is running as a Republican in the district, which is currently represented by Paul Vallone.
Queens is home to a mini-Nepal of Nepali residents. KC says that he has the support of the Nepali community, saying half of the 366 people who donated to support his election campaign so far have been Nepali immigrants.
KC plans to spend the donations received from the community in the community. He said that he would choose local and community media for publicity. He also said that promotional materials, including flyers, will be printed in local presses. He said that all orders regarding the election campaign would be given to local businesses.
“We have to support local businesses in the community,” he said. “It is not right to take donations from the local community and order from outside for cheap. We have to work for the good of the community in practice.”
He has also given priority to the empowerment and support of small businesses in his election agenda. He said that he used to go to the local gas stations to put gas in his personal car before becoming a candidate in the election. “Even small things make a difference,” he says. “We need to do everything we can to keep small businesses open.”
He is confident of winning not only the Democratic primary but also the November general election. But he says victory is not the most important thing; rather, the participation of minority immigrants like Nepalis in New York City politics is his primary aim. He said that the vote of the minority community would be decisive, and urged those in the Nepali community not to hesitate to exercise their political right by participating in the polls.
KC, who has been active in the interest of the community for nearly two decades, received a Covid-19 Hero Award. In 2018, he was appointed a community board member by the Queens borough president.
KC, who has been living in Queen’s College Point, New York, with his wife and two children, is also a Nepali-American businessman and realtor. He is also working to connect the Nepali community with American politics and politicians. KC was president of the Rotary Club of New York Queens from 2019 to 2020.