A report released this week by the New American Leaders Project, a nonpartisan organization, found that fewer than 2 percent 500,000 seats in state and local offices nationwide are held by Asian Americans or Latino. There is a clear disparity in representation here, as these voters comprise 20 percent of the U.S. population.
The report goes on to recommend three practices to close this representation gap that we wholly agree with:
Recruit more Asian American and Latino community activists and leaders for specific seats.
Community-based organizations, unions, and candidate training organizations must expand their investment and support of these new candidates, as well as new elected officials.
Advocacy groups, funders, and other stakeholders need to create and engage in new tactics that promotes more inclusion in all levels of government.
One of our front page stories this week is about a woman who left her home and family at the age of 16, traversing an ocean and continents to settle in the United States by herself.
Today, Pramila Jayapal embarks on a Congressional bid for Jim McDermott’s vacated seat.
In Names in the News this week (page 2) we featured another Asian American vying for elected office, Phillip Yin, a man with a varied professional background, spanning news, business, and finance. This week, Yin announced he is going to run for state lieutenant governor.
We need more elected officials who look like Jayapal and Yin.
There are many ways to encourage and support new leaders of color.
Donate to the campaigns of those who speak to you — no amount is too small. If you cannot donate money, consider donating your time by volunteering to knock on doors or at events. There is no shortage of ways we can help our chosen candidates.
Adults can also plant seeds early and suggest to young children of color that they, too, might explore careers as leaders in government. (end)