Paul Fong, ‘Godfather’ of Silicon Valley’s Asian-American political community steps into spotlight

In today’s San Jose Mercury News, the newspaper does a very nice profile on Paul Fong, in “‘Godfather’ of Silicon Valley’s Asian-American political community steps into spotlight.” Fong won his Democratic primary for State Assembly (District 22) this past Tuesday, June 3rd and most likely will win in November, given how Democratic the district (44% registered Democrats vs. 30% registered Republicans) . I’ve met Fong a few times, most recently last Friday night at a fundraiser. Fong is a real low-key, behind-the-scenes kind of guy:

“Paul Fong is the godfather,” said Stone, Santa Clara County’s assessor. “I don’t know if there’s an Asian-American candidate in Silicon Valley who doesn’t owe his or her political existence to Paul.” Now, at age 55, Fong, who is accustomed to working his political magic behind the scenes, has stepped onto the main stage…With the blessing of local Asian-American political leaders Norm Mineta and Mike Honda, Fong has successfully mentored about three dozen successful Asian-American candidates as they’ve gained seats on South Bay school boards, city councils and water boards. His successes have included Margaret Abe-Koga, vice mayor of Mountain View, and former Cupertino Mayor Michael Chang. Fong, a former Marine reservist, likes to compare the club he formed in 1996 – the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club – to the Army’s Delta Force. Like commandos, he said, the club’s members swoop into the campaigns of Asian-Americans “to help out, or even rescue those” that seem to be failing.”

I found the term “Godfather” amusing to describe an Asian American since that Italian-American stereotype has been around ever since The Godfather movie came. I guess the non-religious term of Godfather has always been used to describe people of power of all ethnicities.

Fong grew up in Sunnyvale, and was a star quarterback for Sunnyvale High School when U.S. House of Representative Mike Honda was then a teacher there, when Asian Americans in Santa Clara made up only 3 percent of the population. From someone who did not grow up from around here, it’s funny to think that Silicon Valley (comprised of primarily San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Jose County) , not a long time ago, did not have that many Asian Americans and used to be “all orchards.” Now, Silicon Valley is approximately 30% Asian. Asian Americans throughout the United States need more ‘Godfather’s’ to help nurture budding Asian American politicians, not only here in California and the West Coast, but everywhere.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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