Republican Lester Chang is now officially a member of the Assembly after taking his oath of office in Albany.

Chang beat longtime Democratic incumbent Peter Abbate in South Brooklyn this past November. But then questions were raised about whether he met the residency requirement, and Democrats threatened not to seat him.

“I am confident. I am duly elected by the people. Supported by the people, from the people,” Lester Chang said Tuesday, after being sworn in. “So, that’s my strength. That’s where it comes from. Everything else, my legal team, will address those issues.

What You Need To Know

  • Democrats met for three hours today and still made no decision on whether to accept Lester Chang as a member of the Assembly

  • Chang won the seat for the 49th Assembly District in Brooklyn, beating a longtime Democratic incumbent

  • Questions have been raised about whether Chang meets the residency requirement to serve

Chang owns an apartment in Manhattan, and voted from that address in 2021. By law, he must have been a Brooklyn resident for a full year before the 2022 election in order to meet the residency requirement. Chang claims he had moved back into his Brooklyn childhood home to care for his ailing mother.

Republicans say expelling him is a bad road to take.

“No, I think it’s a terrible precedent,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. “I think the last time it happened, interestingly enough, it was a Republican not seating socialists, maybe a 100 years ago. First of all, he’s going to be seated. That’s not the issue. What they are going to have to do is throw him out.”

The Democrats charged the Assembly Judiciary with investigating the residency issue, and while it found evidence Chang may have lived in Manhattan, it stopped short of making any recommendation about not seating him.

On Tuesday, Democrats met in a closed door conference for three hours, and again reached no consensus.

Chang was asked if there was an anti-Asian bias at play.

“I hope not. I really hope not,” Chang said. “Because that’s really against our community. I really hope it’s not. But if so, then my community, the Asian community, throughout the whole state and the United States, will address that issue.”

A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says, “Lester Chang was elected and by operation of law the term began on Jan. 1. However, the Legislature will be formally organized tomorrow and that body will consider his qualifications to serve.“

Democrats will decide this month whether or not to expel Chang from the chamber, which would require a majority vote. Democrats control that majority.