Asian candidates dot electoral landscape

By Sue Misao
Northwest Asian Weekly

Ten API candidates remain on the ballot for King County in contested races in the Nov. 5 general election.

Two candidates, Naomi Wilson and Shari Song, are vying for spots on the Metropolitan King County Council. Wilson is running for a seat in District 1, and Song hopes to be elected to District 9.

Wilson, a second-generation Korean American, says her top priorities are mass transit, public health, providing affordable housing, and ending homelessness in the community. She also stresses the importance of early childhood education and nutrition and jobs programs for at-risk youth.

Wilson’s opponent is incumbent Rod Dembowski, a Bellevue attorney who was appointed to the council in early 2013. He chairs the Regional Transit Committee, and is an advocate for investments in transit systems, streets and bridges. He has also been a supporter of the environment, working to save open spaces and preserve old growth forests.

Shari Song promises she will “show up for work,” a not-so-subtle jab at her opponent incumbent Reagan Dunn, who has missed more votes than any other King County Councilmember. Song wants to increase police presence to improve response times, enforce D.U.I. laws, and restore the sheriff’s domestic violence unit. Song is also concerned with traffic congestion and promises to fight for the district’s share of county funding.

Dunn is a former federal prosecutor and national coordinator for Project Safe Neighborhoods.

City of Seattle Council Position No. 2

Kshama Sawant is an economist, activist and member of the up and coming Socialist Alternative party. She is currently an economics professor at Seattle Central Community College. Sawant has criticized Seattle police for raiding Occupy Seattle activists’ homes, is an advocate for the concerns of the LGBT community, people of color, and women, and resists cuts to educational and social programs. She wants a minimum wage increase to $15/hour, rent control, and higher taxes on the very wealthy.

Sawant’s opponent is incumbent Richard Conlin, who promotes affordable housing, human rights, and public safety. He is a champion for the environment and transportation choices, and his work on the Sound Transit Board involved bringing light rail to the University of Washington, Northgate and the Eastside. He has also promoted bike lanes and  recycling projects.

City of Seattle Council Position No. 8

Albert Shen is a UW graduate with a degree in environmental science and chemistry. His concerns include education, neighborhood safety, transportation, and clean technology. The son of immigrant parents, Shen is also keenly tuned in to the concerns of API neighborhoods and businesses.

Shen’s opponent is incumbent Mike O’Brien, who promises to be a champion of sustainability, affordability, and economic and cultural vitality for Seattle.

City of Bellevue Council Position No. 2

Incumbent Conrad Lee, currently Bellevue’s mayor, is running for Position No. 2. Lee is a native of China, grew up in Hong Kong, and moved to the United States to attend college in Seattle and Michigan. He is a long-time small business owner in real estate management. Lee wants to keep taxes low while not cutting funding for public safety, find ways to reduce traffic congestion, and preserve neighborhoods.

Lee’s opponent is Lyndon Heywood, a graphic artist and member of the Redmond Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board. Heywood states that he wants to return Seattle to “it’s most basic ideals” regarding fiscal responsibility and government accountability.

City of Bellevue Council Position No. 6

Dr. Vandana Slatter is a community leader, public school parent, and biotech professional who works as a Senior Regional Medical Sciences Liaison at Amgen Inc., a leading biotechnology company. She has also served on the foundation board of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League). She promotes reliable police, fire, and support services for all, especially seniors and at-risk citizens.

Slatter’s opponent is small business owner Lynne Robinson, who is on the Bellevue Parks and Community Services board and a member of the Network on Aging.

Bellevue School District No. 405 Director, District 5

My-Linh Thai promotes friendly schools that are welcoming to parental involvement and concerns. She wants to close the “achievement gap” for at-risk students who fall behind in math and reading, while setting high standards for success. Thai also wants to foster effective, transparent communication among students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

Thai’s opponent is Ed Luera, a track and football coach and a mentor to at-risk youth.

Kent School District No. 415 Director, District No 5

Maya Vengadasalam has been a classroom volunteer, reading tutor, a delegate to the Community Center for Education Results, and a trainer of Kent school employees. Her stated goal is to increase academic excellence so kids have the skills to get good jobs or go to college.

Vengadasalam’s opponent is cattle/crop farmer Bruce Elliott, a board member of the King-Pierce Farm Bureau.

City of SeaTac Council Position No. 6

Joe Van owns a small business and once earned the “Volunteer of the Year” award. He received his AA in administration of justice from Highline Community College, and is a Des Moines police reserves graduate. He wants to make public safety his top priority, and says families and seniors deserve safe streets and neighborhoods.

Van, a Vietnamese American, is running against incumbent Pam Fernald, a retired system analyst and certified software test engineer for Boeing.

City of Mercer Island Council Position No. 6

Benson Wong, a 30-year resident of Mercer Island, is a business lawyer at the Keller Rohrback L.L.P. law firm. He opposes I-90 tolling while promising to address transportation issues, promotes safe open spaces and parks, and values sustainability practices that preserve the environment. This is Wong’s first run for public office.

Wong’s opponent is Rich Erwin, a retired Internet infrastructure operations engineer for Boeing. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, and a masters degree from Seattle University. He opposes I-90 tolling, and wants to address parking  and other issues at Town Center. (end)

In addition to English, ballots are available in Chinese and Vietnamese. For more information, call 206.296.0100.

Sue Misao can be reached at editor@nwasianweekly.com.

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