By Chris Kenji
Northwest Asian Weekly
When I first sat down with Phil Yin at SoDo’s Krispy Kreme over coffee and donuts, my first impression was he is a working man; yes, partly because of where we met, but also because he was free of the social formalities associated with a person of his accomplishments. It was a refreshing introduction for a “non-political” politician running for the City Council of Bellevue.
Yin calls himself a “regular Bellevue city resident,” and says regular residents like him can still positively impact the city. “If I’m elected to the Bellevue City Council in December, I will offer practical solutions. You hear Bellevue citizens say that government has become out of touch with the populace. You will find that I am one person who is not a politician who will lower bureaucracy.” Yin is concerned that the electorate may settle for a bureaucracy-laden, Seattle-influenced government that run counter to the values of the city and people of Bellevue. “This is the city’s last chance to push back the imposing interests of our larger neighbor to the west,” adds Yin.
“There is increased talk about the problems in Seattle coming across the lake into Bellevue,” says Yin. “We need to prevent that from happening.” For example, “The drug injection sites of Seattle do not belong in Bellevue,” asserts Yin. “It is not a place to help [people with drug addictions]. Our goal must be to help keep Bellevue drug free, crime free.”
Another issue that needs to be addressed, says Yin, is the traffic problems. “We need to look at better syncing up our street lights. Where feasible, we need to take a look at even using street shoulders for carpools and buses,” says Yin.
Yin is also concerned about high utility rates in Bellevue, as well as property taxes. Yin says he will work for the citizens of Bellevue to hold these down.
“Diversity and entrepreneurship are celebrated in Bellevue,” adds Yin. “Bellevue is often ignored as one of the country’s top hubs for entrepreneurship. We have a strong Chamber of Commerce that supports a strong, diverse workforce.” Bellevue’s Asian communities are not a key swing vote in the December election, says Yin, but “the key vote.” According to last year’s Census, Bellevue’s Asian communities make up over a third of the city’s total population.
Yin has been respected as a pragmatic media celebrity as national anchor for the likes of Bloomberg Asia, CNBC Asia, and CCTV. But he is most of all a person sincerely intent on preserving and protecting the interests of his home town. “I love living in Bellevue.” Yin brought with him a young University of Washington (UW) student whom he is mentoring. Yin would occasionally turn to this student to bring across key points of his message, and offering participation by the student. In addition, Yin gives out annual scholarships to 10 students at his alma mater. Yin received his undergraduate degree at the UW and his MBA from Georgetown University, along with a business certificate from Harvard. Yin remains involved with his local alma mater as a member of the original welcoming team for Tsinghua University’s research partnership with the UW and Microsoft, called the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), scheduled to open in Bellevue in 2019-2020. Yin refers to this new research park the “MIT of China; the best of America, the best of Bellevue. GIX will bring international, technology, innovation opportunities to students in Washington state.”
“This is what makes Bellevue special. It is a pro-entrepreneurial, pro technology hub,” says Yin. “Bellevue is not a rising star. It is already a star, a humble star.” ■
Chris Kenji can be reached at email@example.com.