As the son of immigrant small business owners, Ron grew up watching and helping his parents run a 24/7 grocery store. He saw firsthand the insurmountable challenges faced by many mom-and-pop shops, and was there when his family was forced to shut down their store as their neighborhood, like many others, gave way to corporate chain stores and franchises.
In the time since, he has spent many years wondering what working-class entrepreneurs like his parents could do to overcome the difficulties they faced. What could be done to help give Main Street small businesses and their workers the voice they deserve in our political and financial systems?
Ron believes that if he can bridge this gap of unmet community needs with local business resources, people like his parents have greater opportunities to survive and make a living.
In his first term in office, Ron identified early on that our government’s tax incentives are designed to reward big corporations but do little to support local economies. If our tax system incentivized neighborhood stores to meet unmet community needs with business resources, they should receive tangible benefits. For this reason, Ron introduced the Community Corner Cafe Act, which gives struggling neighborhood restaurants tax breaks for using unused seats during slow hours to help local seniors receive social services from nonprofit groups.
Now, Ron is working to create the nation’s first Office of Financial Resiliency, which would be dedicated to supporting our local neighborhoods with programs that support cooperative and peer to peer economies. Ron has also introduced legislation that would create community and complementary currencies designed to reward people for shopping locally and doing positive community work.
Since taken office in 2012, Ron has written, sponsored and passed a number of bills into laws that help extend microloans, support workers, and fuel more senior affordable housing. Ron also made international news in 2016 when he tackled a mugger who attempted to rob a young mother with her toddler baby in downtown Flushing.
Ron is also National Urban Fellows with a masters in public administration from Baruch College and a former Hamilton College football player who majored in political science. Ron currently lives in his hometown Flushing with his wife Alison Tan and two daughters.