3 female candidates discuss the election and issues important to AAPI community

The polls are now closed for the November 8th election. For the most up-to-date and unofficial election results, visit Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

What are the most important issues to the Asian American community? How do three female leaders who ran perceive the election? And what are their messages to the voters who voted for them and those who did not?

Lily Mei (Mayor of Fremont, Candidate for State Senate) is the first elected woman and Asian American Mayor in Fremont’s 65-year history. She served two terms as a School Board Trustee before being elected to the City Council.

She spoke about the Asian American community and what she perceives as the most crucial issues for them. Lily Mei stated: “Speaking of Asian American community, it is not a flat community, there are many different needs. But some of the things people shared as the biggest concerns are the cost of living, quality education, and at the moment, there is concern about public safety and ensuring we can live, work, and worship, to be a part of the community safely.”

Lisa Gillmor (Mayor of Santa Clara) is a fourth-generation Santa Clara resident and has served the community since 2011. Her father was the first elected Mayor of Santa Clara, and Lisa grew up in the city hall.

Lisa Gillmor had a message for voters who voted for her and those who did not. She stated: “Thank you so much for your support. It is so nice that I have your trust, and I know that I will not let you down. To those who did not vote for me – I am looking forward to building trust with you and to repair the negative campaign that happened about me.” She also wanted to let everyone know that she would put the residents of Santa Clara first over any special interests.

Yan Zhao (Saratoga Councilmember) was elected to the Saratoga City Council in 2018 and served as Mayor in 2021.

She told the voters who voted for her: “I want to thank people who voted for me, I want to thank them for their support, trust, and confidence in me. For people who did not vote for me, I want to work harder to earn their confidence in me that I can help solve the problems our community is facing and make sure I hear their concerns, their suggestions and that make sure to do what is best for our community.”

Yan Zhao also spoke about issues she worked on as the Mayor and what she plans to work on as a Councilmember. Safety is the top priority. Saratoga launched automated license plate readers that resulted in several stolen vehicles being found. The city will continue monitoring this pilot program.

When asked which issues she perceives the most important to the Asian American community, she said safety is the most important. Asian American community faced many challenges and anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. She stressed Asian Americans need to stand up, speak out, and vote. But it is not enough to vote, it is also important to participate in community service so that people see the United States is our home.

Diana Ding asked several Asian American community leaders about their perspective of the election and the most important issues to Asian American voters in Silicon Valley.

Benjamin Yee (Planning Commissioner for the City of Fremont) stated he noticed a lot of defragmentation with many Asian American communities. He said: “As Asian Americans, we need to go out and vote, we need to have our voices heard and to be unified as one single voice… One of the commonalities that I’ve been hearing throughout all of Northern California has been we need to be one unified voice, we need to be one large, unified voice.”

Satish (Indian American community leader) talked about Anti-Asian hate crimes. He said: “One of the most important issues for Asian Americans is that they are self-reliant… Lisa has been very supportive. She is sensitive to the culture and values that Asians bring to the Santa Clara community.”

Phuong Nguyen (Vietnamese American community leader) stated for his community priority issues include safety and small business.

Kookie Fitzsimmons (Saratoga Vice Mayor) spoke about the Asian American community in Saratoga and what she perceives as the most important issues to them. Kookie Fitzsimmons stated: “Voters are voters. For most of us in the community, the most important concern is safety, to be safe in our homes and neighborhoods. We also must have our financial houses in order.”

Did you go out and vote? What are the most important issues to you in this election?


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