This year, a record number of Asian Americans are running for public office at the local, state, and national level. Reappropriate has partnered with Run for Something — a non-profit launched in 2017 to support grassroots campaigns to elect progressive candidates — to profile these progressive Asian American candidates for higher office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2018 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.
What is your full name?
What office are you seeking?
State Representative in Kansas’ 25th House District
When is the election date?
There is currently no primary challenger, but that election would be August 7, 2018. The general election is November 6, 2018.
What is your party registration (if any)?
Tell me a little bit about your background in general, as well as your relationship to your identity as an Asian American?
I was born in Switzerland to Chinese PhD students and moved to the United States when I was 2 years old. I naturalized to be a US citizen in the 7th grade, which was the one day of school I missed between 3rd grade and graduation.
Growing up in rural Missouri, I endured quite a bit of teasing for being Chinese, but I was always able to laugh it off and ignore those people by saying “These people don’t even know they’re on the wrong side of history, poor guys.” However, after the 2016 election, I realized that that was not required to be true. My passivity in correcting those that made fun of me further enables them to continue to do that, and when a Presidential candidate starts using similar language on other groups, maybe they’re drawn to that.
That’s what made me vow to take action.
How did you become inspired to seek elected office?
In addition to the above, I was frustrated with this system we’ve created for ourselves where people on both sides of the aisle don’t really trust their elected officials, and I don’t think that has to be the case. If we elect trustworthy people, then the public starts to restore their trust in the government, and we can start to enact policies that can really have a big impact across large groups of people.
What three issues do you think are most important to your constituents, and what step(s) do you plan to take to address them if elected?
By far the most important issue in Kansas right now is funding public education, so we need to elect officials that constitutional funding of our schools is priority #1. We also need to reverse the regressive and ineffective tax policies of the Brownback administration that got us into this mess. Finally, it is all of our responsibilities to be good stewards to this planet, and take care of the environment.
What impact has the current political climate had on you as an Asian American progressive seeking elected office?
It has spurred me to action. In a ‘normal,’ pre-2016 political climate, I am off pursuing my own aspirations and working my way up the career ladder, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last two years, it’s that ‘active bad’ beats ‘passive good’ every time. We need those seeking to do good to be more active than ever before.
What advice would you have for other young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently considering a career in politics and/or public service?
Just go for it. It is crazy, and scary, and exhilarating, and 100 other adjectives, but I have found the support that I’ve received to be amazing, from the local, county, and state parties, from my friends and family, and especially from strangers who just support my campaign.
Where can readers go to learn more about you and your campaign?
How can readers get involved to help your campaign? Are there any upcoming events you’d like for us to know about?
The best way is if everybody who reads this is able to donate just $25 to my campaign. My opponent has a lot of money and a lot of corporate backing, while I’m relying on small donations from a lot of amazing, engaged people.
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Run for Something recruits and supports talented, passionate young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. Since its launch on inauguration day 2017, they’ve recruited 16,000 young people to run for office.
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