This week, we found out that Stella Chao will not be reappointed as director of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Now, both Chao and McGinn have come out to publicly say that it was a mutual decision.
We’ve known Chao for a number of years, and to us, she’s a class act — extremely hardworking and passionate. There aren’t many people who care as much as Chao.
This is why we are very disappointed to see her leave the City of Seattle. It’s not because she’s Asian, but because she did great work. In the face of serious budget cuts over the last year — and her department was hit pretty hard — Chao was able to sacrifice things that other bureaucracies would struggle to deal with.
When McGinn was running for mayor, a lot of Asian American community members supported him.
We continued our support as he took office, trusting him. Many said that it was good to work with him.
Now we don’t doubt that working for him is rewarding, but we’ve experienced something unexpected.
In our front page story about Chao, Okazaki said he was concerned with the pattern of Asian Americans serving at the top being let go or not being picked for top positions. Okazaki expressed concern that a lot of important decisions were being made without any Asian Americans in the room.
Soon after McGinn took office, one of his deputy mayors, Phil Fujii, stepped down. He cited personal health reasons. However, about two months after leaving, Fujii returned to Vulcan — the company he initially left to work for the City — for a six-month job. Last year, Theresa Fujiwara was up for a director position in a prominent department and was very qualified. However, she was passed over.
It seems that lately, Asian Americans have had a good start but a bad ending. It doesn’t quite make sense because there are so many strong Asian American leaders in our community who are loyal and responsible in their respective positions.
We hope that McGinn realizes this and appreciates it. It goes back to why diversity in leadership is important — to be able to approach problems from many different viewpoints, not just a limited one.
It’s important that we have diverse viewpoints and perspectives in our government because that will reflect what is great about Seattle — its multiculturalism. It’s not wise to just hire ‘yes’ people. That wouldn’t do a business or administration any good. ♦