John Chiang Remains a Top Contender in Race for California State Governor

California state treasurer John Chiang was in the San Jose area supporting California assemblymember Evan Low on Sunday, March 18th, and I had a chance to catch up with him after the belated Lunar New Year fundraising dinner. The last time I saw John was when he was in town being endorsed by Evan last November.

The more recent exciting news about the race for California governor was at the California Democratic state convention, where no Democrat gained the party endorsement (the threshold is 60%) and John came in second.  According to KTLA’s CNN wire:

“The endorsement battle proved competitive in the governor’s race at at Saturday’s California Democratic party convention, where John Chiang and Gavin Newsom were locked in a close race for the party’s nod.

“After the votes were tallied, no consensus was reached for a gubernatorial candidate. Newsom received the highest percentage of votes with 39 percent, followed by Chiang with 30 percent, Delaine Eastin with 20 percent, and Villaraigosa with 9 percent.”

When I heard that news, I was happy to hear how well John did at the convention. Just a few days before, a recent poll (Thur 3/15/2018) by the Newsom campaign revealed:

“In the survey of 1,000 likely voters done by nationally recognized pollster David Binder, Newsom corrals 26 percent of the vote; Cox, 16 percent; Democratic state Treasurer John Chiang, 13 percent; former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 12 percent, Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, 10 percent; Democratic former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, 7 percent; and former Hillary Clinton adviser Amanda Renteria, 4 percent. The survey found 12 percent of respondents were undecided.”

With less than 80 days left until the June 5th primary, there’s still some ground for John to pick up.

John discussed how the cost of housing was an issue in California (where 20% of residents live in poverty), how his stance differed from his opponents’, and how he was the first state-wide official in the United States to take on the corrupt practices of Wells Fargo.

I wish the best of luck to John with the rest of the campaign!

Michelle Kwan Endorses Vivek Viswanathan for California State Treasurer

Michelle Kwan and Vivek Viswanathan

Here with Michelle W. Kwan reminiscing about our time on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. Thanks so much for your support, Michelle! Check out our campaign at www.vivekforca.com #VivekforTreasurer #RunwithVivek

Posted by Vivek Viswanathan on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Video & Image courtesy of Vivek Viswanathan for State Treasurer 2018 – https://www.vivekforca.com/

Back in early March, I was on Facebook and I saw a fundraising event titled Happy Hour: Michelle Kwan & Vivek Viswanathan in San Francisco, and I was like, what?!?

I had briefly seen Michelle back in January for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the security line for the press/VIP entrance but didn’t get a chance to chat with her since I wanted to make the press conference for the announcement of the U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team. The first and only time I had met Michelle was back in the Fall of 2015 for a fundraiser for Asian Americans for Hillary in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton didn’t become president …

Who is this Vivek Viswanathan candidate and what is he running for was what I first thought? He’s running for California State Treasurer, to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang (who is running for Governor of California.) Well, since Michelle was going to the event – I had to go and learn more about Vivek!

At the Happy Hour, Vivek’s remarks were brief, but I was able to stay for dinner and hear more in-depth from not only Vivek, but also:

https://youtu.be/gxzzQ8buvoY

I also had a chance to first chat with Vivek’s Aunt & Uncle, who live near San Jose, as well as his Mom & Dad as well as his brother (who were all in town for the event visiting from New York). At the Happy Hour and also during the dinner reception, I did get to learn that Vivek is a really smart guy, having gone to Harvard for undegrad, and getting his JD/MBA at Stanford.

He’s also been a Special Advisor, Office of Governor Jerry Brown and also a Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton on her presidential campaign. Michelle Kwan, Ann O’Leary and Dan Schwerin knew Vivek from working on the Hillary Clinton campaign together at the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how they all got to know Vivik and to endorse him.

All of this at the age of 30. He’s also doing something unique to get the word out about his race for California State Treasurer – running 500 miles from Sacramento to San Diego over a period of around two months to reach out to Californians and learn & listen.

After the long evening, I did get a chance to do a brief interview with Vivek:

I really admire Vivek putting himself out there and running for office, but it will be a big challenge for him running against a very established Democrat that is very well known and liked among the Democratic establishment even if the general Californian public doesn’t know her that well (a lot of people don’t even know who John Chiang is!)

There is also apparently a Republican in the race for State Treasurer according to Ballotpedia, but given there are no elected Republicans holding state wise offices, I’m pretty sure that his chances are close to zero of being elected, but he might have a chance to make it from the open primary to the general election in November.

The only poll that matters is election day. Stranger things have happened, as we all know, Donald Trump was elected president … And first time candidate Stephanie Murphy made history by beating a 24 year incumbent to become the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress.

Oh, and I also did get a chance to meet Michelle and chat with her at both the happy hour and dinner reception:

The above photo got me over 100+ likes on Facebook 🙂 and plenty of comments …

Best of luck to Vivek is his run for California State Treasurer! You can follow Vivek at:

Website: www.vivekforca.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivekforca

Twitter: @vivekforca | Instagram: www.instagram.com/vivekforca

Dr. Mai Khanh Tran is running for Congress in hotly contest seat for CA-39

I recently had a chance to meet Dr. Mai Khanh Tran while she was visiting in downtown San Jose. She’s one of many running for an open seat in the 39th Congressional District of California, after Republican incumbent Ed Royce announced, like many Congressional Republicans in “purple” districts, that he was retiring from Congress. But Republican Young Kim is the anointed successor by Royce (having worked for him previously), a Korean American business woman who previously had served a term in the California State Assembly.

I had made a small donation to Tran’s campaign because I was looking to support and flip a Republican Congressional District so that the Democrats can win the House in November 2018 and she was an Asian American woman doctor! This was prior to Taiwanese American Jay Chen entering the race, who had previously ran against Ed Royce back in 2012 – who I supported and also had a chance to interview at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. After Royce had announced he was retiring, Chen announced he was running for the seat. I had heard that he promised not to enter the race, but Royce’s retirement of course changes the dynamics of the whole race and makes the race a jungle primary in June 2018.

I’m glad I don’t live in California’s 39th Congressional District, because I’m not sure who would vote for – Tran or Chen. Tran made a good case for her vote: she’s the only immigrant refugee female Asian American doctor running for office in that district. She also employees 90 people in her medical practice so has practical small business experience.

But I guess I wouldn’t have to make a choice, because in a surprise move, Chen decided for the “greater good” to withdraw from the Congressional race, since it was already a crowded Democratic field:

“Potential candidate Jay Chen said that he won’t file to run in CA-39, the seat held by retiring Republican Ed Royce and one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities if they can avoid splitting the vote in the top-two primary in June.

“As of now 9 Democratic candidates and 7 Republican candidates have filed for a primary in which Republican turnout may remain higher than Democratic turnout,” Chen said in a statement.  “The probability of two Republicans advancing in November, and Democrats squandering a historic opportunity, is real.”

“The greatest contribution I can make right now is to help consolidate the field, by stepping away from it.  We cannot afford to let this seat slip away, and we must all put the greater good over personal ambition,” he added.

The DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] praised the move in a statement. “

I was kind of shocked when I heard the news, since Chen had gotten a lot of endorsements, but in a recent polling I came across:

didn’t look great for him. Maybe since Chen was the last to enter the race, that many didn’t know he was running yet?

Ed Royce and the Republican Party specifically chose to get behind Young Kim because she’s an Asian American female Republican – someone that the district could get behind. Demographically, the district is:

  • 55.1% White
  • 28.3% Asian
  • 2.4% Black
  • 34.6% Hispanic

There are also two self-funders (including one lottery winner!). So there could be a lot of split votes with a lot of Democrats running and Republicans running – though I think there will be consolidation behind Young Kim as the race gets closer.

So even though Royce won re-election in November 2016, the district voted for Hillary Clinton Clinton beat Donald Trump 51% to 43%. This is one of the key Congressional Districts that the Democrats have targeted to win.

Tran has quite the compelling life story:

“When I was 9-years old, a U.S. Marine carried me from the tarmac in San Francisco. He was the first American I ever met.

It was 1975, and I couldn’t thank him because I didn’t speak a word of English. Several months earlier, my dad had dropped my three siblings and me off at an orphanage in Saigon just before the city fell. None of us knew if we’d ever see each other again. I didn’t know it then, but my father’s selfless act of love gave his children a shot at freedom and a better life.

Balancing work and school was difficult, but with the support of my family and community I was able to get the grades to be admitted to Harvard. There I cleaned bathrooms as a janitor, working my way through school with the help of Pell Grants and scholarships. Next came the Dartmouth-Brown joint Medical School program, financed again with the help of scholarships, student loans, and federal grants. I finished my residency in Pediatrics at UCLA, and settled in Orange County, where I have been caring for the children of working families for the past twenty five years.

I’m also a two-time breast cancer survivor, and was blessed to become a mother in my forties. Thankfully, I had reliable health insurance that I could afford, or neither would have been possible.”

After reading and meeting Tran, I feel like I could be doing more with my life! Tran has been living the American dream and contributing to our great country.

Back in January, she made it as part of the cover of Time:

If you didn’t know already, there are already a record number of women running for office.

If elected in November 2018, Tran would be the first female doctor ever elected to Congress (I’m told there was one who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands – but that Representative doesn’t have a vote for the U.S. territory).

Best of luck to Tran in the primary, and in the general election if she makes it through the primary!

 

 

 

8Asians Interview with Dave Min for Congress (CA-45)

Back in January, I was able to meet up with Korean American Dave Min,

who is running for Congress in California’s 45th Congressional District, which is in Southern California, encompassing part of Irvine:

Min was raised in the Palo Alto area and we have a mutual friend who introduced us to each other. Min is currently a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. From his campaign website:

“A first-generation Korean-American, Dave worked as an enforcement attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, as an economic and financial policy advisor to Senator Chuck Schumer, and as an economic policy director at the Center for American Progress. Dave grew up in California, and Dave and his wife Jane settled in Irvine where they both teach at the UC Irvine School of Law while raising their three children.”

I had a chance to chat with Min at a local Starbucks for almost 17 minutes to ask him about running against Republican incumbent Representative Mimi Walters along with a field of Democratic candidates (including another UC Irvine professor!)

From a demographics standpoint, the 45th Congressional District (CD-45) is fairly diverse and highly educated:

  • 66.9% White
  • 21.0% Asian
  • 1.4% Black
  • 18.7% Hispanic
  • High school graduation rate: 92.5%
  • College graduation rate: 50%

More importantly, Orange County in 2016 49.8 percent voted for Hillary Clinton compared to 44.9 for Trump when Walters got re-elected. Although Orange County has traditionally been fairly conservative (certain for California), given how unpopular Trump is in California, there’s a good chance for Min or another Democrat to defeat Walters.

Best of luck to Min – it’ll be interesting to see if he can make it past the open “jungle” primary with so many running for the seat.

8th Annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution – with Daniel Ellsberg

Every year since the kickoff year in 2011, I’ve tried to make the annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution in the Bay Area.

This year, I was particularly interested since after watching the movie The Post (about The Washington Post and its reporting of the Pentagon Papers, which was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg), the keynote speaker this year was was Daniel Ellsberg, who apparently lives in Northern California.

Ellsberg did not disappoint! Ellsberg’s keynote was I thought, very thought provoking, discussing that the Trump America we know today existed before Trump was elected. Ellsberg also thought that if there was another “9/11” event that there would be indeed Muslim concentration and deportation camps. Ellsberg said the events of Charlottesville with the white supremacist and Trump and Trump’s administrations’ racist attitudes and that a very large fraction of America is actually represented by Trump. Some may want just jobs, and not all are racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc… it is not 1% There are a lot of contradictions in American, like the first 11 out of 15 presidents of the United States owned slaves, 8 of them while they were president.

The whole program in the video includes:

  • Welcome – Jane Katsuyama, Emcee
  • Greeting – Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th District of California
  • Speech Contest Winner – Sarah Khan, Fred T. Korematsu Middle School
  • Statement: Sanctuary State – Office of CA Assembly Rob Bonta, CA 18th Assembly District
  • Guest Speaker – Reyna Grande
  • Lion Dance – Leung’s White Crane and Dragon Group
  • Film Clip: And Then They Came For Us – Abby Ginzberg, Director
  • Fred Korematsu Speaks Up – Laura Atkins & Stan Yogi, Authors
  • 50:451:21:50 – Keynote Speaker – Daniel Ellsberg
  • Call to Action – Adena Ishii
  • Public Service Announcement (PSA) – Fred Korematsu Day
  • Tribute to Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Korematsu Institute Update – Karen Korematsu

The Jim Jefferies Show: Congressman Ted Lieu – Trolling the President

I’ve blogged about my favorite Taiwanese American Congressman, Ted Lieu. I’ve never watched The Jim Jefferies Show on Comedy Show, but I saw this interview with Congressman Lieu I think on Facebook. The last time I saw Congressman Lieu on TV I think was on 60 Minutes.

This time around, Lieu is interviewed by comedian Jim Jefferies about Lieu’s infamous trolling of President Donald Trump on Twitter, as reported in this Washington Post article this past Spring:

“Since the beginning of the year, followers of his personal @tedlieu account have exploded, going from fewer than 10,000 to more than 122,000. (The official @reptedlieu account, managed by his staff, is generally more cautious, like Lieu’s former public profile.)

His frequent barbs have gotten the far right’s attention. Breitbart News has wondered whether, as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he could be court-martialed for persistent criticism of the commander in chief. (He can’t be, and he doesn’t tweet on duty.)

In conversation, Lieu is far more cautious and earnest than he is in his Twitter ripostes, and polite to a fault. Born in Taiwan, he projects a conservatism in manner and dress that seems at odds with many of his constituents.

After a dozen years serving in local and state politics, he succeeded Democrat Henry Waxman, who retired in 2014 after representing California’s 33rd District for four decades, more than three-quarters of Lieu’s life. The district is among the nation’s wealthiest and includes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu and Lieu’s more middle-class home of Torrance.

Lieu was elected president of his Democratic freshman class, but his first two years in Congress were comparatively quiet on social media. “We had a Democratic president who could stop stupid ideas and unconstitutional ideas,” he says. Now, Democratic members of Congress “are basically the last line of defense.”

Trump and his administration unleashed Lieu’s mojo. “Was charged $2.99 for coffee listed at $2.59,” ran one tweet. “That’s why I have trust issues. Oh, and the fact that @seanspicer at #WhiteHouse makes s— up.”

I love following Congressman Lieu and do wonder if his tweets are to give himself a higher profile. This past July, I did see Lieu speak at Politicon 2017 in Pasadena, and was able to ask him if he was going to run for Senate if California Senator Dianne Feinstein was going to retire (she’s 84 and her current term expires in 2018) – he stated he was focused on getting re-elected and helping elect a Democratic House for 2018 (note: Feinstein has since stated she’s going to run for re-election).

You can follow Congressman Lieu’s latest tweets here:

 

 

 

 

78% of Asian American Millennials Disapprove Trump’s Job Performance

In a recent NBC News/GenForward Survey poll at the end of September, 78% of Asian American Millennials disapprove of Trump’s job performance. That is not a surprise given that 64% of Millennials overall disapprove of Trump’s performance.

Additionally, the poll found 68% of Asian American Millennials said that the Democratic Party “Cares About People Like You.” That is not terribly surprising either given that in 2012, 71% of Asian Americans voters casted their ballot for President Obama (77% according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)) and 79% for for Clinton in 2016).

 

March Fong Eu, pioneering Asian American politician who was longtime California secretary of state, dies at 95

To be honest, I had not heard of March Fong Eu prior to reading about her passing, but she indeed sounds like a pioneering Asian American & Californian politician that broke many ceilings:

“March Fong Eu liked to tell constituents that she was “born behind a Chinese laundry,” and it wasn’t far from the truth.

Eu’s parents ran a hand-wash laundry in Oakdale, a modest town in the San Joaquin Valley where — at the time — a girl of Chinese descent might well have thought twice about dreaming too big.

But Eu climbed the rungs of education, plowed through the high brush of politics and became the first Chinese American to hold a constitutional office in California when she was elected secretary of state, the first woman to hold that office.

A potent symbol of womanhood and persistence through her life, Eu died Thursday following surgery after falling at her home in Irvine, said Caren Lagomarsino, Eu’s longtime spokeswoman. She was 95.”

Eu was in elected office long before I moved to California in August of 1999:

“After first serving four terms in the state Assembly from 1966 to 1974, Eu rode into the headlines with her populist campaign to ban pay toilets from public buildings, which she said symbolized the second-class treatment of women who would be left fumbling for pocket change in their purses just to use a bathroom.

She received the highest vote total ever at that time for a statewide politician to become the state’s chief elections officer and keeper of business and archival records. She was unbeatable in the next four elections.

During her nearly 20-year tenure, Eu instituted voter registration by mail and got federal approval of legislation allowing voters to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies.

Eu technically became the state’s first female governor — if only for a day — in 1976, when all the other state officials in the line of succession were out of California.

In 1988, midway through her fourth term, Eu sought the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate, hoping to become the first woman to serve as a California senator. However, she withdrew because she did not wish to disclose the financial holdings of her wealthy second husband, Henry Eu, a Singapore businessman.

Four years later, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were elected the first two female California senators.

Toward the end of her fifth term as secretary of state, Eu resigned when President Clinton named her ambassador to the Pacific nation of Micronesia, a post she held for two years until 1996.”

She sounded like an amazing woman and am surprised I had not heard about her, much like how I did not hear about Patsy Mink until watching a documentary about her. I couldn’t find much about Eu on YouTube and hope that someone makes a documentary about her. Some additional background information about Eu:

“Before her tenure in Sacramento, Eu worked for years in local politics around the Bay Area. A former dental hygienist, she served on the Alameda County school board in the 1950s and as president of the Americans Dental Hygienests Association. She earned degrees from UC Berkeley, Mills College and Stanford, and was elected to represent Oakland and parts of Castro Valley in the state Assembly, where she served four terms.

With Asian American women like Eu breaking barriers in California so long ago, it boggles my mind that California hasn’t elected an Asian American governor nor Senator. I’m a little disappointed that Eu didn’t run for Senate, as Trump never disclosed his tax returns.

San Francisco Board Supervisor Jane Kim Running for Mayor

Supervisor Jane Kim filing to run for mayor of San Francisco in the June 2018 special election. Courtesy of S.F. Examiner.

With the recent and sudden passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, there has been some speculation as to who may run for mayor in a special election in 2018. Well, we now know at least one candidate, and that is current San Francisco Board of Supervisor (District 6), Jane Kim:

“The upcoming mayor’s race has its newest major candidate: Supervisor Jane Kim, who pulled papers to run for mayor Wednesday from the Department of Elections.

“You’re not going to ask me why I’m here?” Kim jokingly asked department staff Wednesday morning, who have been anticipating rumored mayoral hopefuls.

Her June 2018 mayoral run would see her go toe-to-toe against former state Sen. Mark Leno, former Supervisor Angela Alioto, homeless advocate Amy Farrah Weiss and other filed candidates. Rumored candidates who have yet to file include Acting Mayor London Breed, Supervisors Mark Farrell, Assemblymember David Chiu and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.”

To be honest, until reading this article, I didn’t realize the field was already this crowded! I don’t live in San Francisco proper nor follow the politics there that closely, so I don’t have an idea as to how well Kim is positioned in the special election.

I first met Kim through a mutual friend (and fellow 8Asians.com blogger) when Kim first ran for San Francisco Board of Education back in 2004 (she came in 7th place, out of 12 candidates, for 4 seats). I remember attending her kick-off campaign event in 2010 when Kim first ran for supervisor, and was pretty touched as she described her immigrant background. And in awe when Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed and campaigned for Kim for California State Senate.

While I don’t necessarily agree with Kim politically on everything, but I certainly wish her the best of luck in running. With Mayor Ed Lee being San Francisco’s first Asian American and Chinese American mayor, I think it would be terrific if Kim made history by being the first Asian American and Korean American woman to be elected mayor of San Francisco.

Remembering San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

When I woke up the Tuesday morning of December 12th, I was shocked to see on Facebook that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had died suddenly of an apparent heart attack (now since confirmed). I was saddened that Mayor Lee had died so young, at age 65, and so unexpectedly.

I didn’t grow up in San Francisco and personally didn’t really know Ed Lee until he was appointed Mayor of San Francisco after then Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected Lt. Governor of California and vacated his office. I liked the fact that Lee had pledged NOT to run for mayor as a condition of being appointed mayor, and was very disappointed when he did run, since I was for an up-and-comer like then San Francisco Board of Supervisor David Chiu.

Mayor Ed Lee Welcoming Congressman Mark Tanako

But I was certainly proud of the fact that San Francisco had finally had its first Asian American/Chinese American mayor, given the fact that San Francisco is over 30% Asian. I had attended many different political and other city-related events and had seen Mayor Ed Lee many times. He was always civil, friendly and most importantly, accessible and looking out for the best interests of San Francisco and San Franciscans. For most of his time working for the City of San Francisco, he was a quiet, behind-the-scenes “bureaucrat” (in a good way) working for the good of the city.

From Mayor Lee’s Wikipedia entry, a summary of Lee’s professional accomplishments prior to being appointed mayor and then elected twice as mayor:

“After Lee completed law school and received his Juris Doctor degree from UC Berkeley School of Law, he worked as managing attorney for the San Francisco Asian Law Caucus, where he was an advocate for affordable housing and the rights of immigrants and renters.[6] In 1989, Mayor Art Agnos appointed Lee to be the city’s first investigator under the city’s whistleblower ordinance. Agnos later appointed him deputy director of human relations. In 1991, he was hired as executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, serving in that capacity under Mayors Agnos, Frank Jordan, and Willie Brown. Brown appointed him director of city purchasing, where, among other responsibilities, he ran the city’s first Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise program.[1]

In 2000, he was appointed director of public works for the city, and in 2005 was appointed by Mayor Newsom to a five-year term as city administrator, to which he was reappointed in 2010. As city administrator, Lee oversaw the reduction of city government and implemented the city’s first ever ten-year capital plan.[1]

Mayor Ed Lee at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina

I think Ed Lee was most disliked for the passing of a “Twitter tax break” and seemingly favoring business over the working class, which appeared to contradict his entire upbringing. But personally, after reading more about the issue of the tax break – it made no sense to me that San Francisco included stock options as part of its payroll tax calculations if all the other cities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley were not.

Mayor Ed Lee at a Golden State Warriors press conference/game

The biggest issue Lee had to contend with, in my opinion, during his tenure was the cost of living in San Francisco, specifically housing and the consequences of it (homelessness). If you want a backgrounder on the housing crisis, you should read this TechCrunch article. Basically, the past 5 to 10 years, job growth has really surpassed housing construction and mass transit sucks in the Bay Area. But it’s definitely complicated.

Mayor Ed Lee speaking at a Vincent Chin related event

Unfortunately, over that weekend when Lee’s memorial occurred, I already had plans out-of-town and could not pay my respects in person.

However, I had a chance to watch about 30 minutes of Mayor Ed Lee’s memorial service, and was touched by the words his daughters spoke, as well as others including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Lt. Governor Newsom. My thoughts are with Lee’s wife and daughters and extended family.

I hope that Mayor Ed Lee’s service to the city of San Francisco serves as a role model and encourages Asian Americans to consider a life in public service.

Chinese immigrant Hongbin Gu responds to social media criticism on bid for Chapel Hill Town Council

I saw this article by Durham, North Carolina’s The Hearld Sun posted on Facebook recently and was outraged by what I had read, and immediately made a small contribution to Hongbin Gu’s campaign for city council in Chapel Hill:

“She’s not US born,” [member of the Orange County Local Facebook group, Douglas] Roberts wrote. “What’s happened to us?”

Roberts, when asked in a comment whether Gu living in the U.S. for 22 years was enough for her to be considered American, said, “born in the USA works, born a North Carolinian is better.”

Gu, 49, responded to the social media criticism by posting her immigration story.

She was born during the Cultural Revolution in China, she said, and her parents were sent to labor camps when she was barely a month old.

Gu remembers seeing photos of tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square that brutally put down student protests in Beijing in June 1989. Gu said she was a student in Shanghai at the time and participated in similar marches and protests as part of the nationwide pro-democracy movement led by students.

“I think my experience, especially coming from an authoritarian state, makes me appreciate even more this democratic system we have over here,” Gu said.

Gu came to Chapel Hill two decades ago with just $50 in her pocket, and now has a family and researches autism as a faculty member in the psychiatry department at the UNC School of Medicine. Gu has a Ph.D in mathematical psychology.

“As an immigrant, I actually appreciate more about how valuable our system is, what it really means, and what kind of sacrifices people have made to actually make this system happen in this country,” Gu said.

Candidates for municipal office do not have to be born in the United States. They do need to be U.S. citizens, at least 21 years old, registered to vote, live in the municipality and not be a convicted felon, according to the Orange County Board of Elections.

Gu became a U.S. citizen in 2015, she said.

I thought Gu’s response was brilliant. I myself was the son of Taiwanese immigrant parents and I know my father came with almost nothing to the U.S. when he came for graduate school (in fact, he didn’t have enough money to fly all the way to Atlanta – he had to take the bus cross country from LA to Atlanta).

Except for Native Americans, it boggles my mind that some Americans refuse to recognize that the United States is a country of immigrants, and built by immigrants. The U.S. is a country that is built on ideas, not based on race. If Gu happened to have been a European immigrant, I wonder if she would have received this kind of criticism? I doubt it. In the age of Trump, I’m not surprised, but am disgusted, by this kind of criticism (I mean, after all, Melania, violated immigration law).

 

 

Exclusive: The 8Asians Interview with Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy

I first met then candidate Stephanie Murphy shortly after the 2016 Democratic National Convention in July. What I didn’t realize, or had forgotten, was that Murphy had announced running for Congress in June 2016 – and essentially ran a 4-month campaign and defeating a 12-term (24 year) incumbent, Congressman  John Mica. That is pretty unprecedented.

So it was with great pleasure that I was able to meet now Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy recently when she was back visiting the Bay Area. One thing I learned prior to me having the chance to interview her is that basically Mica & the Republicans took her for granted and that she had a massive get-out-the-vote ground game – where her campaign knocked on over I believe 120,000 doors in the district.

Well, this time around for November 2018, Murphy is a big target for Republicans to maintain the majority in the House. She’s one of two in Florida that the GOP is targeting:

“Florida Reps. Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy are among GOP targets for the midterm elections.”

In my brief interview with Murphy though, I didn’t focus in on her re-election, but how it’s been like to be in Congress, what has surprised her, what committees she’s on, as well as her recent trip to Vietnam on  an official Congressional delegation and the kind words that Senator McCain had for Murphy as well as the Vietnamese American community has done for America, which I thought was quite touching.