Irvine, California elected its first non-white mayor last Tuesday, as reported in The Los Angeles Times:
“…Irvine is more than one-third Asian American and is home to a large Iranian American community. And on Tuesday, voters here elected the city’s first nonwhite mayor. Sukhee Kang, a Korean immigrant and city councilman, credits his success to knocking on 10,000 doors, building up his credibility through two City Council terms and amassing a multiethnic coalition of voters. “I never wanted to be viewed as a Korean American or Asian American candidate,” Kang said, his voice hoarse from post-election talks and interviews. “I wanted to be viewed as Sukhee Kang. Because as mayor, you serve the entire community.”
Kang makes the point I was trying to make earlier – we shouldn’t necessarily vote and elect Asian Americans because they are Asian, but because they are qualified to represent the communities in which they live in. But Asian Americans need role models or examples of Asian American leaders to encourage more Asian Americans to fully participate in American society – both in elected and non-elected positions within the towns and cities we live in. We need to be fully engaged in our government, as others are.
I was at a birthday party for a friend and met a fellow Asian American who had been an Obama supporter and he was disheartened that he had been phone banking in San Mateo, a city in which the county is 20% Asian American, but he was only a handful of Asian Americans volunteering. I told him he was singing to the choir handed him my 8Asians business card, and told him to read all of my politics posts!
I’ve been to Irvine a few times and there is a large Asian American community there, as there are in many cities in California. If there are not Asian Americans that run for city council or mayoral seats in California, do you think that will happen in places like Kansas?