By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
2022 has been quite a year for the Asian community—it has been unusual as the community has been hit with everything at once. We witnessed a mass exodus of businesses due to the pandemic and public safety issues, such as homeless camps and high crimes, leading to jobs lost and misery. But the number of business closures has been underreported.
Despite what happened in the Chinatown-International District (CID), we need to point out that there are still good things for us to celebrate, and to recognize those who have worked tirelessly to make our community better.
Top winners award
For a person who has never run for office before and had to cover her campaign in 39 cities of King County, Leesa Manion has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Winning nearly 58% of the votes, Manion will be the first Asian and female King County prosecutor in 2023. Her list of endorsers were long and impressive, including former Gov. Gary Locke, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, 28 legislators, 17 retired judges, 16 labor organizations, and many more prominent officials.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz won the top cop spot this year after serving as deputy and interim police chief of the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The interim period had not been easy for Diaz as the SPD faced and still faces staff shortages and internal challenges, such as culture change and morale. Diaz demonstrated his willingness to listen and work with the community.
Appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee, Steve Hobbs was appointed to be the first Asian and person of color as Washington state Secretary of State last year. The seat was formerly held by Republican Kim Wyman, who took a job with President Joe Biden’s administration. The seat has traditionally been held by Republicans for decades.
Yet, Hobbs demonstrated competency in the job and earned high marks. He was challenged by an independent in this year’s election. And Republicans declared that the seat should be a non-partisan one. Why didn’t the Republicans say so when five Republicans ran the Secretary of State office in our state since 1975!?
The mainstream media said Hobbs won the race “narrowly” by 49.8% of the votes out of over 2.5 million cast. Is “narrowly” a fair word? He won by over 100,000 votes. If you asked 100,000 voters to stand behind Hobbs, even Lumen Field couldn’t hold that many people.
The field’s maximum capacity is 72,000. So don’t just look at the percentage, look at the numbers as real people who voted.
Biggest loser award
The Republican Party in Washington state. In almost every major race, the Republican Party lost, from Senate to Congressional races. Democrats were able to flip District 3 seats from Republican to Democrat, thanks to former president Donald Trump, who supported election deniers.
Argentina won the World Cup, beating France. I didn’t have time to watch the whole game. Just watching the highlights produced heart-stopping moments. It’s wonderful to see Argentina and France play such an exciting match. You couldn’t predict who the winner was going to be. Well done, Argentina and France!
Kickass duo award
Matt and Gei Chan, a remarkable couple, worked so hard to defeat King County’s mega SODO homeless shelter which bordered the CID. Though Matt has cancer, it didn’t stop him from fighting for justice. They met with County officials, organized protests, and engaged the community and supporters. In just 37 days, the County backed down from the shelter idea due to the community’s pressure.
Gei has been active in organizing the community to battle Sound Transit (ST)’s proposal to build a station in the CID, connecting Ballard and West Seattle, due to displacement and environmental impacts. At this point, we don’t know what ST will do. But it has shown willingness to listen more to the community’s concerns. That’s a big shift in attitude compared to when it first announced its plan.
Betty Lau and Brien Chow are also community activists who work side-by-side with the Chans—supporting the community and making our voices heard. Like the Chans, they attended time-consuming meetings, reported back to others, and invited input. Then, these activists came up with strategies to knock through every red tape.
The Chans, Lau, and Chow gave every bit of their energy and time to these causes. They rallied others to support and unify the base to combat these outside forces.
One of the youngest activist leaders voicing opposition to the ST and SODO projects is Tanya Woo. She organized and led all the senior protests and attended every single one of those meetings to share with the County the detailed impact on the community. She brought along senior protesters to the forefront of the Seattle City Council and King County meetings in their budget hearings to ask for mitigated funds to protect the community from projects that cause negative impacts.
Last year, she was also one of the organizers for the CID’s anti-Asian hate campaigns and rallies. Multi-talented, she is also a Chinese dance performer for many CID festivals such as Lunar New Year. An artist herself, she also designed an art mural with her sister for the Chong Wa Benevolent Association playground.
The rising star award
Mike Fong, Small Business Administration regional director for Washington state, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska, is a rising star. In less than a year, Fong was able to mobilize resources for small businesses, especially people of color businesses. In October, Fong was asked to serve as acting regional administrator, which includes Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. Biden’s team recognizes talent. We will not be surprised if Fong is asked to do more in the future.
Fong is the former senior deputy mayor of Seattle.
Unsung heroes award
The accomplishments of the CID to ward off the mega SODO homeless shelter and also make ST think twice about imposing their positions on the community—that credit belongs to many unsung heroes including many community members and seniors. Most of them didn’t say anything during protests, rallies, and meetings to the Seattle City Council and King County Council. But there’s no question that the power of their presence was felt. The lesson is important, don’t sit on the sidelines. They have to get involved. Politics is their business. When they show up, their message is clear. They would not let others push them around. They have had enough of all the nonsense over the past decades.
Many community leaders and members joined in the rallies and protests. Their participation showed a spirit of unity. That’s why the community was successful in turning back the tides.
In celebration of its 50th Anniversary Friendship Gala, the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) raised over $540,000 at the Bellevue Westin Hotel in October, the highest amount for the agency in its history.
The number of early volunteers from the 1970s who showed up that evening was impressive. Former executive director Alaric Bien even donated $5,000.
To mark the 136th anniversary of 350 railroad workers, agriculture workers, and coal miners pushed out of Seattle in 1886, over 600 Asian Americans rallied in the CID on Feb. 12, 2022, and marched towards the waterfront where the Chinese were expelled. Organized by several Chinese American groups, the march led by several elected officials and community leaders raised the ills of racism and the awareness to stop it during the pandemic.
Voices of awakening award
When we first reported ST’s proposal of two alternative stations at 4th and 5th Avenue South, we didn’t know what to make of it. There was not much information about community impacts except that it was convenient for ST to have it located in the CID, close to downtown Seattle, and in the transportation hub being close to I-5, I-90, train station, buses, and ferries.
It was Larry Matsuda’s letter to the Asian Weekly that woke up many community members towards the ST proposal that CID would bear all the negative consequences to the point that it may destroy the entire CID when the station is built.
And the cry for unfairness was magnified by Bettie Luke, accusing ST of encroachment and all the past injustices we had encountered for the past century.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is standing up to Russia and Vladmir Putin, mobilized all his countrymen to fight against tyranny and unjust invasion.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin thought there wouldn’t be much resistance and the people of Ukraine would just flee and hand over its territories ine by one. Putin has been so wrong. The Ukrainians fought like hell for their country. Battle after battle, Russians had underestimated the will of the Ukrainians, their toughness, and their resilience. Their courage is insurmountable.
The fact that one out of four Americans has donated funds to the Ukrainians for different needs, such as refugees relief and other means, is incredible. The Ukrainians are an inspiration to many. Whenever I want to complain, I just think of what the Ukrainians have gone through, and I feel grateful that my ordeal is truly minor in comparison to their trauma and pain.
Community spirit award
Viet Wah Supermarket closed after operating for 40 years in the CID. During its time in CID, it had been supportive of the community. When we asked for their support honoring first responders, they were most generous in donating gift certificates. They even doubled what we had requested of them, unbeknownst to us at that time that they were losing money and confronting homeless and crime issues during the pandemic. Thank you for your compassion and community support all these years.
Now that you’ve come to the end of this article, you will find that I haven’t figuratively called out many Worst Awards or “devils of the year.” I could have, but I decided not to. Enough of the negative news this year. So just focus on the positives of the community. After all, we celebrate that the community is able to unite together in 2022, and learn to support one another to forge forward in 2023.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.