David Chiu is the First Asian American EVER to be Elected to Represent Chinatown

This past week, the the San Francisco Department of Elections officially completed the Ranked-Choice Voting result for City Supervisor, District 3, and officially called the election for David Chiu; Chiu defeated Joseph Alioto 59.37% to 40.63%.

Believe it or not, this makes David Chiu the first elected Asian American to represent a district with a Chinatown. Chinatown in San Francisco is the first and largest Chinatown in the U.S., under the district election system. Someone questioned me that certainly Gary Locke — the first Asian American to be ever elected governor in the continental United States and first Chinese American to be elected governor — would be the first, but Locke has never represented a district and was never mayor of Seattle; he was elected King County‘s County Executive, which does cover Seattle, and has its own Chinatown.

Some of you may be asking — who cares? Well, wouldn’t it surprise you if the largest ethnic neighborhood of any of America’s largest cities not ever have someone from that ethnic background representing that neighborhood? Imagine if no Italian Americans ever represented a “Little Italy,” or someone Black representing a Harlem. It should be a big deal that an Asian — a Chinese/Taiwanese American — is representing Chinatown for the first time ever, just as Americans all over the United States are excited at electing the first African American president in President Elect Barack Obama.

What is shocking is that I continue to Google for news about this historic event, and can find very little evidence and details about this. This only goes to show how invisible Asian Americans are, especially when it comes to politics and civic involvement. Hopefully David Chiu will represent a new generation of Asian Americans that are active in public service and can inspire all to be active in their communities and not in their own self-interests.

Also in November, Asian Americans Eric Mar and Carmen Chu won for the City Supervisor positions; Chu was originally appointed to her District after Supervisor Ed Jew resigned. This makes for a record three Asian Americans representing the city of San Francisco out of a total of eleven districts in San Francisco. Excellent, given the fact that San Francisco is approximately a third Asian American. So being color blind, the city of San Francisco is electing qualified candidates that truly represent the needs and constituents of the city.

(Flickr photo credit: VoteDavidChu)

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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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