NEW YORK, NY — On Monday, Aug. 8, the Asian Pacific Americans Voting & Organizing to Increase Civic Engagement (APA VOICE) — a nonpartisan coalition of community-based organizations — hosted a forum inviting candidates running for New York’s 10th Congressional District to address an in-person audience.
The nonpartisan event was put together with the support and collaboration of local partners — such as the MinKwon Center for Community Action — and saw the participation of seven leading candidates as they addressed audience members, and answered questions regarding their views on issues that impact the communities they hope to represent.
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Mae Lee, executive director of China’s Progressive Association said in a press release that with election day fast approaching on Aug. 23, many voters in the community, especially those with language barriers, were still trying to decide which candidate best embodied their political views.
“This August, voters will choose among 12 candidates vying to represent the newly created Congressional District 10. The CD10 race is one of the most high profile races,” Lee said, adding that, “With Election Day only three weeks away, many voters in our community still do not have all the information they need to make a decision.”
“This forum will be an important opportunity for our community to directly hear the candidates speak about their views on the issues, and how they plan to serve and represent our community. We are pleased to work with APA VOICE in organizing this event,” Lee said.
Wayne Ho, CEO and President of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), underscored the importance of establishing an open line of communication between the representatives and their constituents.
“The upcoming August 23rd primary election is a critical opportunity for our growing and diverse AAPI communities in Congressional District 10 to make their voices heard,” Ho said, adding that he hoped the event would enable the community to “make educated decisions at the polls,” and identify which representative best aligns to their views and priorities.
“It is more important than ever to have a representative who is responsive and accountable to their constituents,” Ho said.
Helping communities feel safer
One of the highlights of the forum saw the candidates talk about how they plan to address the rise in recent crimes affecting the Asian-American community.
Carlina Rivera, who has represented the 2nd district of the New York City council since 2018, said that her main priority would be to invest in the community’s youth and help “increase workforce-development training.” Rivera also said that the subway system should be updated so that people, especially women and children, feel safer commuting to and from work.
Rivera also added that since the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses have been closed because employees don’t feel safe working in some neighborhoods, and that comprehensive programs — such as childcare services and after-school programs — should be incorporated to assist communities that come from predominantly lower-income, minority households.
According to a recent survey, 78 percent of residents living in Brooklyn and Queens have reported feeling unsafe while walking around in their communities — particularly when a growing number of violent attacks against women have been reported.
Representing New York’s 17th Congressional district and running for re-election, Mondaire Jones also stressed the importance of helping community members “actually feel safe in their communities,” and mentioned how the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act that he helped pass in Congress was helping keep communities safer by identifying potential perpetrators before they have a chance to strike.
Bringing people together, amplifying their voices
Jo Anne Simon, who represents the 52nd assembly district in Brooklyn, said that she became a leader in her community after witnessing a shooting in her neighborhood over 40 years ago. Simon, a former teacher and disability civil rights lawyer, said the motivation behind her running for politics is to “fight for what you care about,” and that the people need an “effective, progressive and thoughtful legislator” that will speak up for everyone — including “young people and marginalized communities.”
Similarly, Quanda Francis, who is serving New York’s 52nd Assembly District, said that she joined politics because “our communities are not engaged” and need a leader that will “help amplify their voices.” Francis’ background is in accounting and business, and said her main focus is to “modernize our nation’s infrastructure, revolutionize K-12 education, reduce poverty, codify abortion rights into federal law, and invest heavily in community and workforce development.”
Thomas Yu, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) said that he hoped the panel would address issues ranging from, “Affordable housing to small business survival and stopping AAPI hate,” adding that, “There is so much at stake in the upcoming primary election.”
Vision Times reporter Ryan Wu contributed to this report.