New York Assembly Candidate Reactivates to Help Build Javitz Center Hospital

Lester Chang, a 22-year Navy Reservist from New York City and candidate for elected office, reactivated to help build the 3,000-bed hospital in the Javitz Convention Center.

For three weeks, Chang said he worked without a day off and logged 10 to 16-hour days to prepare, assemble and man the makeshift hospital to help New Yorkers during the Corona Virus onslaught on behalf of the New York State Naval Militia.

On his first day off from the project, Chang went to a small event at Manhattan’s Essex Street Market to thank bakers and organizers for donating bread to Lower East Side communities and first responders working inside the Javitz Center.

Chang, who was born in Manhattan’s Chinatown, on Eldridge Street, is an international shipping consultant who served in the Navy in Washington, D.C., in the aftermath of 9-11, and completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He is running as Republican candidate for State Senate for District 26, which includes Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Downtown, against Brian Kavanaugh, a career Democrat since New York Mayor Ed Koch’s administration.

This is Chang’s second run for public office, after being backed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 2016’s race to fill the seat made vacant by the indictment of longtime State House Speaker Shelly Silver.

At a fundraiser before the April, 2016, special election, Giuliani said of Chang: “If I read all the polls correctly, people are tired of career politicians. You elect Lester on April 19, it’s a statewide story, it’s a national story. You win here — I tell you — it sends a signal we can win cities,” according to a profile in The Villager.

018_Guiliani & Chang
Candidate Lester Chang photographed at a fundraiser headlined by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, in 2016.

Chang’s parents were immigrants who moved from a cramped one-bedroom apartment on Eldridge St. into public housing in East Harlem. He grew up in Brooklyn and attended Midwood High School, but spent all of his free time working in Chinese takeout restaurant his mother bought after his father died when Chang was eight years old.

He went to SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, then worked in business and finance before taking a job in the public sector for the U.S. Census Bureau. When he was 35 years old, Chang enlisted in the Navy and has since served in the Navy Reserves.

NY District 26 State Senate Candidate Lester Chang on the roof of the Javitz Convention Center as the USNS Comfort enters New York Harbor.

After 9/11, he was called to duty to work for a Joint Intelligence Fusion Cell and in 2009, he was sent to Afghanistan as a military analyst for special ops.

For 25 years, he has been an election poll worker at Chinatown’s Confucius Plaza.

“I served the community, I served the state and I served the country,” he told The Villager. “I’m a public servant.”

Lester Chang, in his Lieutenant Kimlau American Legion Post cap, posed for a photo with former Mayor Giuliani.

Big issues in the campaign focus on what’s relevant to the hard-working Chinese-American community that makes up most of District 26.

Those include Chang’s support of the long-standing rules under threat now that make admission to New York City specialist high schools based solely on academic merit, rather than racial quotas, and preventing New York Mayor de Blasio’s plan to close Riker’s Island Prison to build an $8 billion jail skyscraper in downtown Manhattan.


  1. New York needs better elected officials at every level. Thank you for your service, Mr. Chang, let’s give the Dims a real run for it!


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