The Nov. 5 election saw 10 API candidates in contested races throughout King County. Four were decidedly victorious; four others appear headed for overwhelming losses, while one is too close to call. In the days following election night, it was generally considered that Kshama Sawant, looking to replace Richard Conlin in his Seattle City Council seat, would not come up with enough votes to win. Sawant issued an optimistic warning to Conlin: In two years, she’d be back with a win. The daily count has since seen her numbers rise, and as of Wednesday night, she had surpassed Conlin by 402 votes. If she wins, she’ll be the first Indian American to ever sit on the Seattle City Council, as well as the first Socialist. Too interesting.
Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray has picked two seasoned City Hall hands to lead his transition committee: former Seattle City Councilmember Martha Choe and King County budget director Dwight Dively.
Choe, who currently is the chief administrative officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said she was “excited about attracting top talent and insuring that we have a high-performing city.”
As Mayor McGinn prepares to leave office, his staff, which includes three Asian Americans, will have to do the same.
Candace Inagi, the mayor’s senior advisor for external affairs, has worked on lobbying, organizing, and civic engagement campaigns for non-profits, unions, and elected officials aligned with her values on labor, social and environmental justice, immigrants rights, and health and long-term care.
Heidi Park, president of the Japanese American Citizens League, served as policy analyst for the mayor’s office. “He is a great guy to work for,” Park said of the departing mayor. “He is very progressive, and it’s a great honor to work for him.”
Park previously worked in the office of Congressman Jim McDermott as a community liaison.
Council Liaison Jaline Quinto, a UW graduate, has worked in communications for the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation, served as communications director at DC Vote, raised funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, managed a successful Washington State House race, and worked with Democratic leadership in the Washington State House of Representatives.
The Mayor’s office said McGinn will be giving all the members of his staff “good recommendations” as they go forward.
We hope the new mayor will also pepper his incoming staff with more Asian Americans, who can give voice to Seattle’s growing API community in ways that make them feel well represented. Equally, we celebrate the Asian American citizens who took risks and ran for office; they did an honorable thing by stepping into the public service arena. Winning is great; losing is no fun. But it’s worth the run when you’re passionate about the things you believe in and are willing to put yourself out there and be a force for change. If nothing else, it gives you the exposure, experience and opportunity to get to know the voters, and possibly fuels the fire for another go at it.
On election night, Albert Shen, coming up short in his race against Mike O’Brien for a seat on the Seattle City Council, was seen with a big smile on his face.
He did not look like he was losing. In choosing to run for office, all the APA candidates are winners in their own right. We thank them for the effort. (end)