Written by Rachel Wang
On April 29 at Walter Johnson High School, a public forum was held for community members to meet the local and state Asian American election candidates.
The five candidates included Chao Wu, (Howard County School Board), Lily Qi (State House Legislative District 15), Dong Shen (State House Legislative District 43), Hongjun Xin (Senator District 15), and John Liao (County Council District 2).
The election will take place on November 6, 2018.
Chao Wu is a candidate for the Howard County School Board. He believes a major issue that should be resolved is the lack of the Chinese-American voice. “Parents need to come out for a say, [and] not just about educational purposes either,” he said.
To connect the Asian American community with the rest of society, Wu proposes using many forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
To address the need of autistic students, Wu proposes enforcing the Identification and Evaluation Program (IEP) of each school, so each special needs student will be confirmed to receive the education they require.
For school safety, Chao suggests the restoration of lockers, further education on mental health, as well as a foolproof notification system to immediately alert administration on any dangerous situations.
Lily Qi is a candidate for the State House Legislative District 15 position. She is involved in many MCPS and Asian American School Boards, and has worked for higher education in universities for several years.
Qi’s main priority is the economy. “[The economy] makes Montgomery County and Maryland more competitive economically, [so there is a] greater sense of urgency to attract other businesses and investments.” Qi gave the example of biotechnology: when the biotech economy was introduced at an early level, the economic standings were bolstered immediately.
To bridge the connection between American society and minority groups, Qi proposes community liaisons to work as the unifiers of the Middle Eastern and Western societies. “All politics begin locally,” she said. Qi plans to strengthen the connection by closing the language gap in order to resolve any misunderstandings and stereotypes a group may have about the others.
John Liao is a candidate for County Council District 2. Liao emphasizes that the main priority of all Asian Americans is a stable community. However, by worrying about these basic concerns, Asian Americans still are not “stepping up for themselves” by speaking up and presenting a voice. Liao believes that the lack of an Asian American voice is due to a language gap. “English is key to bridging the gap, [because] misunderstood translations do not lead to future of cultural diversity,” he said.
Liao also stresses the importance of school safety (pointing out current risks such as trailer park education), the risk of current traffic infrastructure, and suggested lower business taxing for the growth of business industries.
For the issue of young adults and job opportunities, Liao believes that the housing of young individuals needs fairness, as the budding entrepreneurs often cannot handle the costly rent fees. Therefore, he thinks loans should be given to a larger quantity of people. “[Without them,] a great number of entrepreneurs and businesses are deterred,” he said.
Dong Shen is a candidate for the State House Legislative District 43. Shen’s two main areas addressed are the school safety issue and the lack of Asian American voicing in society.
For the school safety issue, Shen claims that as he plays a father role in the local community, he is most concerned with the protection of students due to the many recent school shootings. Shen wishes to lead and take actions, as a parent and with other parents, to raise awareness about the school safety issue.
To back up his claim about bridging the Asian American community gap with other western communities, Shen presented statistics proving the major role Asian American communities play in quantity (22% in current community), expressing that change can be vouched for through social platforms like WeChat, Twitter, Facebook, and many other public forums.
Furthermore, Shen disapproves of data desegregation and wishes to introduce a bill banning any further action of the desegregation in Maryland state.
Hongjun Xin is a current candidate for the Senator of District 15. Xin has a background as a businessman, working in the pharmaceutical and hard economy business.
Xin vouches for business growth in Maryland, and has plans for the state to increase employment by increasing investment. “The business in Montgomery County has already slowed, and it needs to be brought back up to speed immediately,” he said. Xin believes that by linking technology and the economy, the investment of businesses will go up.
Xin also addressed the topic of school safety, speaking from the role of a parent. He supports funding for schools to conduct more classes, as well as to improve the qualifications of teachers.
Xin emphasized that Chinese-Americans are underrepresented in the Senator/Delegate level, and that they need to speak up for themselves in public forums, social media platforms, as well as in political stances.