Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Asian Americans movin' on up in politics

Yesterday I posted about how Governors Deval Patrick (MA) and Eliot Spitzer (NY) hadn't named any Asian American cabinet members. That hasn't changed, but I caught this NYTimes article about Indian American Kris Kolluri, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's Secretary of Transportation, serving asa Acting Governor for a day or two while everyone else above him in the political pyramid was out on vacation.

Another politician with the foresight to appoint an Asian American is former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who appointed Eugene Huang as the Secretary of Technology. This was no slouch of a position as Virginia's tech valley has drawn a goodly number of jobs and residents to the state. Huang is by all definitions a rising star as the youngest cabinet member in Virginia history at the age of 28 and current White House Fellow.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (of the easily misspelled last name) just appointed Tammy Duckworth, Iraq war vet and former congressional candidate to head the state's Department of Veterans' Affairs. She has to be confirmed by the state legislature, but should prove to be an invaluable voice (btw, this is one of the smartest hiring decisions the man with the difficult name has made.)

And it's not as though Duckworth was even the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a cabinet post in Illinois - that honor belongs to Shinae Chun: "In 1989 Chun made Illinois history when Thompson appointed her to be the director of the Department of Financial Institutions." Let's remember that former Gov. James Thompson was a Republican, and he did it over 20 years ago - that's what makes the appointment extraordinary.

Other governors, Democratic and Republican, in less progressive states have recognized the value of the Asian American community and the wide berth of talent by appointing Asian Americans to cabinet posts. So really, I don't think that it's asking too much that the Democratic Governors of the nation's two most Democratic states appoint at least one Asian American to a high-ranking cabinet position within their respective administrations. As Colbert would say, "Governors Patrick and Spitzer -- you're on notice."

It's not as thought Asian Americans aren't building our bench team ever deeper and wider - just look at the five new Asian American mayors who are being sworn in in California. The San Jose Mercury News has a look at this diverse group, who were all born abroad and embraced America and decided to run for office: Taiwanese American Kris Wang (Cupertino), Chinese American Otto Lee (Sunnyvale) who served in the navy, Japanese American Yoriko Kishimoto (Palo Alto), Filipino American Jose Esteves (Milpitas) and Taiwanese American Eileen Kao (Saratoga).

Also pretty cool is that Kao, Wang and Kishimoto are Asian American women - strong sisters who are representing all of their constituents.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home