New York, NY- On May 20, 2013, over 50 Asian led and Asian serving organizations brought mayoral candidates to speak in front of our community at Growing Numbers, Growing Impact: Mayoral Candidates Forum on Asian Pacific Americans at LaGuardia Community College. The forum demonstrated the growing influence of Asian Pacific Americans, and focused on priority issues of high concern to the community.
Candidates that committed to join the forum were Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatidis, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Erick Salgado, and Bill Thompson. Candidates that actually attended the event were Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Erick Salgado. Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson notified the organizers on Monday morning that they would not be able to attend and while John Catsimatidis confirmed, he did not attend.
“Many groups/organizations from the Asian Pacific American community put a great deal of effort into organizing an informative event for the community members to hear from various Mayoral candidates of their plans on how they will improve New York City. However, last night, our community members were robbed of the opportunity to have their voices and concerns heard and to hear viable responses and solutions from the candidates themselves. The Asian Pacific American population was the fastest growing over the last 10 years, and our votes and voices need to be taken seriously. Our numbers are growing, our voters are growing, our needs are growing, and our voices need to be heard. It was a bit disappointing that not all of the candidates could be there last night and hopefully they will make themselves available through another avenue.” Linda Lee, Executive Director of the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
Luna Ranjit, Executive Director of Adhikaar said, “We are disappointed that many of the candidates who confirmed did not show up to the mayoral forum on Asian Pacific Americans. For weeks, we mobilized our Nepali-speaking members to attend the event and worked to ensure that they had interpretation available. If our members can take time out after a long day of work, why can’t the front runner candidates make it a priority to come talk to them and ask for their votes?”
“I think the lack of attendance by those candidates who had confirmed they would come says a lot of their lack of commitment to the Asian Pacific American community. This is particularly disappointing in light of the fact that our community is typically undeserved and under-recognized,” Nyasha Griffith, Deputy Director, Arab-American Family Support Center.
“We understand that some of the elected officers were at the LGBT rally yesterday and couldn’t attend the Asian Pacific American forum. However, there were some candidates who declined and we felt that they needed to be at the forum to gain a comprehensive understanding of Asian Pacific American issues and to hear first hand/have a face to face discussion and be able to connect to the members of the diverse Asian community. The candidates had the opportunity to address nearly 600 community members and did not take it. I heard many audience members say that they will not vote for anyone who will not prioritize our needs,” said Lois Lee, Director of the Chinese-American Planning Council.
“Last night’s forum was a historic moment for the community; we were to come together in an effort to hold candidates accountable to the issues and concerns of our community. Regardless of who showed up, hopefully it will serve as a foundation for the work ahead of us,” Seema Agnani, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC.
Each candidate joined the forum for 20 minutes and answered questions compiled by the Asian Pacific American community of New York City. Moderated by Richard Lui, NBC and MSNBC News Anchor, this educational, non partisan event brought together over 600 community members, advocates, seniors, parents and youth from all five boroughs, representing over 30 ethnicities.
"The Asian Pacific American population is the fastest growing group in New York City. It is a community that has contributed mightily to this City’s growth, and is eager for civic engagement. It represents a large and influential voting block. Anyone who ignores this population does it at his or her own peril,” said Joyce Moy, Executive Director of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute, City University of New York.
"LaGuardia Community College is a place where we foster dialogue, ask questions and encourage debate,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College. “We are thrilled to host this mayoral forum and it offers a great opportunity for our city’s leaders to share their vision for the future of our City.”
“The Asian Pacific American community makes up nearly 14% of the population with 1.3 million New Yorkers throughout all five boroughs. The community is an essential economic driver in the City with growing voting power and a strong donor base,” said Wayne Ho, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “CACF is proud to be part of this collaborative event to give our community members the opportunity to learn about each candidate and make an informed decision when choosing our City’s next mayor. We look forward to continuing to collaborate to ensure our next mayor is held accountable to our community.”
Candidates addressed constituents about key issues that affect the Asian Pacific American community including health, education, economic development, social service needs, civic engagement, and immigration.
“New York City is the Great Experiment, where people from across the globe come to grow and thrive together. Asian Pacific Americans are an integral part of the fabric of the City,” said democratic candidate Sal Albanese.
Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio stated, “Asian Pacific Americans are a growing and critical piece of New York City’s fabric. This forum is a unique opportunity to talk about how we build leadership that listens to every neighborhood and every community across the City.”
“There was a time in the not-too-distant past when invitations to candidate forums about APIA issues would fall on deaf ears. The participation of this year’s major Democratic candidates for Mayor is a testament to the sheer growth and potential of the NYC APIA community’s political relevance and influence, and I am honored to be a part of it,” said democratic candidate John Liu.
Democratic candidate Erick Salgado stated, “As the Asian Pacific American community continues to grow in our City, I am honored to participate in a forum that will give Asian Pacific Americans the opportunity to learn my ideas for helping all of New York City’s diverse communities. As a part of a minority group myself, I understand how important it is to have all communities well represented in our government. Therefore, I am the candidate who is going to ensure a fair representation of underrepresented communities.”
Although she was not able to attend, democratic candidate Christine Quinn said, “As one of the fastest growing communities in New York City, the Asian Pacific American community cares about the same issue that all New Yorkers care about – strengthening the middle class. I am proud of my record of protecting affordable housing, ensuring quality public schools in all neighborhoods, and standing up for immigration reform. I look forward to working with this vital community as we fight for a better and more prosperous New York City.”
AABANY was pleased to be a Supporting Organization for this important mayoral candidates’ forum.