3 FilAms aim to win 1st ever CA seats
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OAKLAND, Ca. It is a political feat Filipinos have yet to achieve. No Filipino has ever won a California assembly or senate seat but there are 3 Filipino contenders who have an eye on breaking yet another glass ceiling at the June election.
Three Filipinos are running for the assembly seat in different districts Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta, Lathrop Vice-Mayor Chris Mateo and the Alameda County Status of Women Commissioner, Dr. Jennifer Ong.
Former Assembly District 18 candidate Kathy Neal, San Francisco Firefighters, and Alameda Police Officers Association have endorsed the 40-year-old Bonta for the State Assembly.
“His local government roots are desperately needed to stop Sacramento from slashing vital public services in our communities,” said Dominick Weaver, President of the Alameda Firefighters Association, Local 689.
“It is an exciting time to break once and for all a glass ceiling that’s been there for far too long and I’m hoping to do that with the support of the entire Filipino community,” Bonta said.
On the other hand, Mateo has served as Lathrop vice mayor since 2010. His rise has been seen as key to affinity with voters. A native of Baguio City, his family moved to the US in the 1970s and he has served as an aviation machinist for the US Navy, started his own business in 1994 then worked as a postal clerk before joining the San Joaquin County Public Works.
He won a seat in the Lathrop city council in 2008.
Ong has a unique story as well, an optometrist by profession. After immigrating to California, her father worked as a grocer and her mother sold hotdogs in the Oakland Coliseum.
“My parents had good union jobs, with health insurance for us. Every family deserves that. My good public education gave me the chance to attend a great university. Every child deserves that opportunity. As a health care provider, I care about health issues and why I am so supportive of the First Lady’s campaign against childhood obesity,” Ong pointed out.
“My politics are simple,” she added, “I believe in personal responsibility. Every person who can work should work. Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes nothing more and not a penny less.”
Ong is the daughter of a father who was a member of UFCW Local 5 and a mother who was a member of Unite Here Local 2850.
She’s gotten the endorsement of AFSCME Council 57 and is a member of the (AFSCME affiliate) Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), Asian Pacific American Labor Association (APALA), and past member of SEIU Local 1021.
Having 3 Filipinos run for higher office has brought Republicans and Democrats together for a common cause: Get them elected.
Charito Benipayo, API State Chair for the Republican Party said, “I believe he can do it and he can represent Filipino Americans.”
Fel Amistad, Chair of the FilAm Democratic Club of San Mateo County said, “Our community should be behind him.”
The Manila-born Filipino-American is the current Vice-Mayor of Alameda. Throughout his career in public service, the 40-year-old Bonta said he has advocated for California’s public schools, fought to prevent layoffs of firefighters and police officers and foster economic development.
For politicians, the Filipino community could be a goldmine of votes. There are an estimated 300,000 Filipinos in the San Francisco Bay Area and neighboring counties, ranking second to the Chinese in total population among API communities.
There is power in Filipino American votes. Reports show that in the last 12 years, California’s registered voters increased by 1.3 million, all from ethnic groups.