Q&A with Stephany Kim-Chohan, councilwoman, Highland Park

Name: Stephany Kim-Chohan
Age: 29
Current Political Affiliation: Democrat
Current Role: Councilwoman, Highland Park
Other Employment: Branch manger and business development officer, BCB Community Bank in Edison
Hometown: Newark
Volunteer/Organizations: Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Young Bankers Committee member with the New Jersey Bankers Association; advisory board member for the Middlesex County Young Democrats; and Government Affairs Committee member with the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

ROI-NJ: When and how did you first enter into politics?

Stephany Kim-Chohan: Like so many, President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign sparked my interest in politics in 2008. I was ready to become a part of America’s next civic generation.

ROI: What, if anything, were you most surprised by in the political arena?

SKC: I had never noticed before the lack of female engagement. You hear about it on the news, but, on several occasions, I actually was the only female at a political meeting. Over the past few years, I have noticed this disproportion slowly changing.


ROI: Has your age helped or hindered you in your political endeavors?

SKC: I believe that my age actually has helped me with my political endeavors, as (many) politicians want millennials on their teams. Municipalities often want to engage millennials, but are still trying to figure out how — and engagement with millennials often means more than simply using social media.

ROI: What advice would you give to young people considering entering politics?

SKC: Do it — dive in. Reach out to your local government, mayor or council members. Attend a council meeting. State your opinions and ideas. It will go a long way.

ROI: What are the issues you are currently most passionate about?

SKC: I grew up in public housing in a single-parent household. Government assistance was our lifeline for many years. Government aid keeps millions out of poverty and I want to make sure to be a voice and a testimony at the table during these conversations for years to come.

ROI: What issues do you believe resonate most within your age group?

SKC: Student loan debt, challenges within the workplace and inequality.

ROI: Let’s talk about the importance of local politics.

SKC: All politics are local. You should always have handy the phone number of your mayor, your council members, your freeholders and your state legislators.

ROI: How do you balance your political responsibilities with that of your current employment?

SKC: Lucky for me, my employer is an extremely community-oriented organization that understands and gives me the flexibility for my political responsibilities.

ROI: What is next for you in politics? What is your ultimate goal?

SKC: To be the voice for those without a voice.

Read ROI-NJ’s other Q&As with young politicians: