By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
I have to confess that selecting the top 10 good things affecting the Asian community this year was not as easy as I thought. For the past two weeks, I could come up with only eight. Could it be that comedian David Letterman’s famous Top 10 list or the media’s favorite year-end list, influenced me?
Ten sounds better, doesn’t it?
It’s not because it sounds right, but because I am sure that our community has much to offer, and it was up to me to keep digging.
I asked for help from my editor, son, and spouse. They picked many that I already had on my list.
Instantly, I felt affirmed and satisfied that they shared my sentiments. Still, I didn’t have 10. How did I stretch from eight to the magical number 10?
You know the process of a writer. Imagination. It’s my job to reflect until I am inspired. The point is, I want to raise awareness about what we have accomplished, and then build consensus. Isn’t that what Christmas is about — finding merits rather than faults, sharing blessings rather than curses — putting differences aside and bonding through common ground?
Finally, the day before my deadline, I got two more. Here’s my list.
10. Some new exciting businesses have opened in the International District (ID). International Community Health Services added an eye clinic. Inside Uwajimaya’s store and Publix, new restaurants include Dough Zone, Great State Burgers, and Cheese Meats Bread. Now in the remodeling process is 85C Bakery of Taiwan, not your typical Chinese bakery, focusing on fresh bread and lovely cakes. It will be located at site of the former Union Market, at the corner of South Jackson and 5th Avenue South. Soon, you won’t need to drive to Southcenter and Lynnwood.
9. The Tsue Chong Noodle Company celebrated its 100th anniversary in September. It offers more than 40 types of products, including noodles and fortune cookies. A family business run by the fourth generation, the business not only thrives, it is the only manufacturing company in Chinatown.
8. The partial eclipse of the moon overlapping the sun occurred in August, and it was spectacular. Sure, Oregon got the full eclipse. I was just happy that we experienced some of the spark. At Hing Hay Park, people gathered to see the once-in-a-100-year phenomenon. Had this not happened in the ID, I would not have witnessed the awe for the first time in my life — the sudden darkness in daylight brought chills.
7. The Hing Hay Park expansion and facelift was completed this year — enhancing the image of the ID. In addition to being double in size, with new plants, design, and exercise equipment, it brings much life and joy to many. In sunny weather (even in the cold), the park is full of life. Swing dances and ping pong tournaments have been held there.
Visitors enjoy their takeout food at the park. At night, lights shine through the red dragon steps. All kinds of Asian plants such as bamboos grow in the park. I have seen diverse flowers bloom during spring, summer, and autumn. Every two weeks, the park changes in color and hues.
6. Appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee, the University of Washington has a new regent, Blaine Tamaki, a trial lawyer from Yakima. One third of the campus population is Asian American. Yet, no Asian American regent has been appointed since former regent Fred Kiga several years ago. Tamaki is one of the 10 regents, and the only one from the other side of the mountains. He has demonstrated his willingness to learn about the needs of the API community by attending his first community meeting at the ACRS in November.
5. Who’s Jeff Lew? He’s the young Chinese American who raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay off school lunch debt. He started with five school districts and has since made it his mission to eliminate lunch debt across the state. A former participant in the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s Summer Youth Leadership Program (SYLP), Lew said he wants to prevent students from feeling singled out or being bullied for not having lunch money.
4. Former Seattle City Councilmember Dolores Sibonga had a brilliant idea to honor the late Ruth Woo — political guru and mentor not only to the Asian community, but other newcomers into politics.
She and another community leader, Joan Yoshitomi, approached King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski to implement a paid fellowship program for youth who want to get involved in government and politics. The fellowship was established in September. Sibonga and Yoshitomi will approach the state and City of Seattle to establish similar programs.
3. Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly celebrated their 35th anniversaries in October with two separate galas for 750 people, each held at China Harbor Restaurant.
Corporate sponsorships and donors allowed for the creation of two UW endowed scholarships of $200,000 for undergraduate degrees at the College of Education and Department of Communication. Over $170,000 was raised after the events. The scholarships will be awarded after one year to students of color, who are the first in their family to attend college.
2. A new female mayor emerges. No one anticipated the turmoil that unfolded in the latter part of the year in Seattle’s City Hall. After Mayor Ed Murray resigned (due to sexual abuse allegations), three mayors were sworn-in, in less than three months, which included Bruce Harrell, the first Asian American. Now that the chaos and rumors have faded, Seattle has voted in a female mayor, Jenny Durkan. Not only that, the first four big vote-getters in the primary mayoral election were females.
What surprised me was, Seattle weathered City Hall’s storm pretty well. All the transitions were refreshingly smooth.
1. Asian Americans gained visibility in key political races this year. The fight between Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan in the mayoral race elevated Asian Americans’ role in both campaigns. Moon nominated Diane Sugimura as the head of her transition team before the election. Both camps had equally strong Asian American supporters, including Frank Irigon for Moon and former Seattle City Council member Dolores Sibonga for Durkan. The division in the Filipino community brought passion and energy into the campaign, though some said it split the community. On a positive note, the rivalry between the two camps sparked more interest than ever before, about who should be the next mayor.
The same can be said of the 45th District Senate race between Manka Dhingra and Jinyoung Englund. Dhingra won, thus shifting the balance of power in the Senate from Republican to Democrat. In the Chinese community, former governor Gary Locke, a Democrat, supported Dhingra; and China Harbor Restaurant owner Lo-Yu Sun and many Chinese immigrants supported Englund, and even hosted a big fundraising dinner for her.
Durkan’s progressive agenda led the way with two Asian deputy mayors appointed by Durkan, a first for the City of Seattle. She appointed Mike Fong as senior deputy mayor and Shefali Ranganathan as deputy mayor. Watch these two rising stars. The best is yet to come.
I can name a few. What bothers me most is that the late Donnie Chin’s murderer is still at large. Chin, a community hero, was shot while patrolling the International District more than two years ago. Where is the justice? We can’t move on until the case is solved!
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.