Rapidly Rising Generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander Leaders Gather at Inaugural Summit in San Francisco to Shift Nation’s Balance of Power
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FRIDAY, SEPT. 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building on the dramatic increase of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) elected officials, a powerful network of AAPI legislators gathered in San Francisco in early September at a meeting hosted by Mayor Edwin Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, that leverages the influence of state and federal AAPI legislators from across the country.
The number of AAPI elected officials has risen rapidly over the past several election cycles. In the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, six to eight AAPI candidates ran for Congress. In 2012, the number tripled to 25 challenger candidates, making the AAPI community crucial in battles to control Congress. A record number of AAPI’s also ran at the state and local level, where a record number hold office. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have also seen the fastest and most dramatic increases in their population in the last 10 years, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
APAICS Leadership Network president Floyd Mori said AAPI elected officials and community leaders on the rise gathered from around the country at the inaugural summit to learn from and interact with each other.
“The APAICS Leadership Network is the first of its kind to unite AAPI elected and appointed officials, incumbents and challengers,” said Mori. “It provides a platform for direct support and training, networking officials at all levels with policy experts from the private and public sectors. There’s no longer any question about the political clout of the Asian American Pacific Islander community – our time has come.”
Currently, one AAPI serves in the U.S. Senate and twelve serve in the U.S. House of Representatives (including delegates from American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.) Since 1903, there have been five AAPI U.S. Senators and twenty-one AAPI U.S. Representatives including Delegates and Resident Commissioners representing territories. They have come from a mix of ancestries, states, and party affiliations.
Founders of the APAICS Leadership Network see involvement at the local and state levels as important to increasing Asian American and Pacific Islander political participation at the federal level.
“As more and more AAPIs get interested in and run for local and state offices, they become role models which in turn fuels the next generation of AAPI policymakers,” said Evan Low, founding board member and the president of the National League of Cities’ Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials.
The Inaugural Summit
An influential panel moderated by the Asian Pacific American Leadership Project (APALP) founder Ron Wong discussed breaking the glass ceiling and running for higher office. The introductory speaker was Betty Yee, a member of the California State Board of Equalization. Ms. Yee is a candidate for California State Controller in 2014. Panelists included Larry Tramutola of Tramutola Advisory, Mary Jung from the San Francisco Association of Realtors, and Eric Jaye of Storefront Political Media.
Rep. Mike Honda, who represents California’s 15th District and spent his early childhood with other Americans of Japanese descent incarcerated in a camp in Colorado, before beginning his political career in the 1980s, presented on important topics with dozens of others.
“When I first started, reaching Congress seemed like a far-off dream – there were only seven Asian Americans in the House then,” said Rep. Honda. “Today, there are thirteen Asian American and Pacific Islander Members of Congress – and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has forty-two Members and associates. That’s a testament to the persistence, enthusiasm and sheer will of the community to get and stay involved in the mainstream political process of this country.”
California state controller and chief fiscal officer, John Chiang, and Christine Pelosi joined Google’s head of politics and causes, Ramya Raghavan, at Google’s San Francisco headquarters to discuss using social technologies to create and scale a network-effect.
To culminate the day of events, a reception and dinner was held at the Westin St. Francis. Hawaiian entertainment was enjoyed by those who attended the reception and dinner at the top floor of the hotel where the beautiful city of San Francisco could be viewed in all its splendor.
MSNBC anchor and journalist Richard Lui was Master of Ceremonies, and Mayor Ed Lee greeted participants and spoke to the group. Also featured was a new generation of rising AAPI elected officials, including Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg, Mass., and Nate Shinagawa, County Legislator in Ithaca, N.Y.
“This is the first step of many. We couldn’t start this march without AAPIs who came before us,” said Mori. “The network is grateful to Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, Jason Chan and others on the mayor’s staff for hosting the summit and assisting APAICS staff members consisting of Helen Ruggiero, Laila Mohib, and Kaitlin Inamasu. We express thanks to all who attended.”