By Assunta Ng
Gary Locke’s political career for the last 30 years has offered nothing but excitement and historical milestones. Although he wasn’t the first Asian American legislator when he ran in 1982, he did beat an incumbent who had been in office for 12 became the first Asian American to run for and win the office of King County Executive, managing 39 cities in our state. After serving only two and a half years, he ran for governor. He won with 54 percent of the vote to become not only the first person of color as governor of Washington state, but the first Chinese American governor in the whole country and the first Asian American governor on the mainland.
After retiring as governor, Locke worked as a partner for law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. In a bold move, he invited Chinese President Hu Jintao to our state. No one in our state was able to bring the highest Chinese official to Seattle, but he did. The population of our state was less than one percent Chinese at that time.
President Obama interviewed Locke three times, first for U.S. trade representative, then, two times for U.S. secretary of commerce. Finally, Obama offered him the position, and Locke became the first Chinese American secretary of commerce in the history of the U.S. government.
On March 9, Obama nominated Locke to be the U.S. ambassador to China, the first Asian American to hold such an important role in foreign service. It’s significant not only to the Asian community, whole nation, and China, but also to the world.
The glass ceilings that Locke has broken are historical and monumental. The challenges that lie ahead are daunting, though. To prepare for his rushed departure, Locke is unable to commit his time for a celebration event with the community.
But we wish him the best. ♦