Left: Sam Yoon. Right: Jun Choi.
This past Friday night, instead of catching the premiere of Sex and The City, the movie (which I saw Saturday night), I wound up attending the Asian Americans for Good Government (AAGG) PAC welcome reception and dinner for Mayor Jun Choi (Edison, NJ) and Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon, with Yul Kwon serving as the host.
Choi discussed his background and how he ran and upset an incumbent mayor, but also discussed the Jersey Guys’ (radio shock jocks) insulting and making racist remarks regarding Choi and Asian Americans on their show over a few hours, back in 2005 when he first ran for mayor. Personally, I had not heard of this case before. The on air apology by the Jersey Guys’ directly to Choi is quite interesting. What Choi had a problem with most of all was the Jersey Guys’ calling Asian Americans not “real Americans” or un-American – perpetuating the belief that Asian Americans are not real Americans.
Sam Yoon also talked about his run for Boston city council member and about he was the first Asian American to ever run, let alone get elected to city council, and how Boston politics was traditionally dominated by the Irish and Italian American community, even though they did necessarily represent or reflect the diversity and interests of Boston citizens.
Both Choi and Yoon were very impressed with the attendance of the reception and dinner, given the fact that Asian Americans are so much more in the mainstream on the West Coast than on the East Coast, and that we have an embarrassment of riches of Asian American representatives. And we were. In attendance was a real who’s who for Asian American politicians at the local level in the San Francisco South Bay and Greater San Jose area, including:
- Yiaway Yeh, City Council member, Palo Alto, CA
- Margaret Abe-Koga, Vice Mayor/City Council member, Mountain View, CA
- Evan Low, City Council member, Campbell, CA
- Gilbert Wong, City Council member, Cupertino, CA
- Paul Fong, Community College Trustee/Professor. Democratic candidate for State Assembly in California’s 22nd District
My point when going around the dinner table is that although California overall makes up 12% of the Asian American politician, when I go to any political events in the San Francisco Bay Area (which is overall around 20%), there are definitely not 20%, or 12% of 5% – maybe 1 %? – in attendance that are Asian American. If Asian Americans want to be taken seriously politically, we need to get involved – either through running for office, volunteering, openly supporting candidates or simply donating money. It’s a real pleasure to have seen Jun Choi and Sam Yoon, along with the local Asian American politicians and hear how they are making a difference not only for their communities, but also for Asian Americans overall.