Growing Numbers, Growing Impact: Mayoral Candidates Forum

By William Kustiono

On May 20, 2013, Asian Pacific Americans community of New York City held a Mayoral Cadidates Forum at LaGuardia Community College. The main topic discussed in this forum is the solution towards issues faced by the Asian societies such as immigration, education, housing, and funding for the local communities. There are eleven candidates supposed to attend this event but only four of them attended. The participants who attended the forum are Sal Albanese, John Liu, Bill de Blasio, and Erick Salgado. The participants who did not attend are John Catsimatidis, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Adolfo Carrion, Joseph Lhota, George McDonald, and Anthony Weiner.

Wayne Ho

Wayne Ho, Executive Director of Coalition for Asian American Children & Families opened with an introduction to the forum and introduced Richard Lui, NBC and MSNBC News Anchor as the moderator of this forum. Richard is an interesting anchorman, in the opening part of the forum, he asked several audiences who would like to participate in sharing their thoughts. He even gave us an example using a mannequin to resemble the candidate and the audience should give it one or two questions. Another interesting was he has already prepared a big double-sided board that indicates the time remaining for each questions. There were many people shared their thoughts and asked several questions to the candidates.

Richard Lui

Each candidate has different opinions on each topic given by Richard and the audiences. The first candidate to respond on the discussion was Sal Albanese. Sal proposed the community forums would be the best things to reach people. People could share their concerns by giving their thoughts to the community board. This is a good solution because Asian needs to stand up and make an empowerment so their voices could be heard in the government board. One of the solutions is to bring forth the concerns to the community forums and the community board will bring them to the government.

Sal Albanese

Sal was pointing on the system in the New York Government that does not address daily issues. In order for the government to address the issues, we need to build community forums. Beside the community improvement, Sal also wants to improve the US Medicare plans that the budget should be allocated to the important and urgent issues. I think this is a good idea since the local Asian communities need more funding and they are underfunded because the government does not give any funding. Sal proposes that there will be a representative from each community to participate in the government to address the daily issues. Again this is a great idea because the Asian community is underrepresented in the government chair, we need more Asian representations in the government.

John Liu

John Liu, the second candidate, also stressed on the community and immigration. Although John’s discussion was very limited by the time, he has a restless schedule but he always responded properly to the questions given by Richard and the audience. He does not want people to discriminate Asians due to lack of speaking proper English. He wants to educate people to make sure they understand how to speak English by building a community center that provides free English training. John also points out similar to Sal, the Asian is very underrepresented in the government. This is a good idea since John needs more support from the Asian community to represent themselves in the government, he will create more spots in the employment section for non-profit communities meaning more jobs will be available in the following years. John wants to rehab and reform the current construction plan, he wants to create more affordable housing, 500,000 houses by the end of 2014 and to support the increasing population in New York City especially Asian people. In the later discussion, he answered one question from a Chhaya CDC member about developing the housing in New York City. First, he needs to address the city problem and second he will reform the housing regulation about mandatory rezoning and make the developers hold responsible for affordable housing.

Bill de Blasio

The third candidate speaking in the discussion forum is Bill de Blasio, he was very well spoken in the forum. He addresses every single question given by Richard and audiences in the end. He is an energetic and charismatic candidate in the forum. His discussion stressed more towards the immigration and the housing problem in the New York City. On the immigration side, he will call for serious changes, that he will make sure people have equalities among races and no discrimination due to lack of speaking English. I think this is also a good idea because he also wants to eliminate the lack of social support for the immigrants by reforming the immigrant law. For the housing problem, he also wants to create more affordable housing to make sure people can buy and live in the new houses. He also proposes some pension fund dollars are transferred to the affordable housing. This goes the same with the federal tax, some of them should go to the housing plan.

Erick Salgado

The last candidate speaking in the forum was Erick Salgado, he is a Latino and a preacher from Bronx. His discussion stressed more on the community and immigrants part. Basically, as we know there are less Asian people in the government that makes them very underrepresented. Erick wants to change this regulation, he wants to make sure Asians are participating in the government. He wants to make sure we are also responsible for the changes in the community. This is a good idea since there is no budget going on to the Asian or the Latino community, he wants us to collaborate and help each other building society together. In the immigration part, he proposed English Second Language (ESL) immigrants are given an identification card so they could vote for the mayoral election for example. This is also a great idea by giving the immigrants identification card, they will have a chance to reflect their voice in the government. There will be no discrimination between local and immigrants.

Overall, the forum was a big success, a lot of audience made a stand about their opinions and they have successfully delivered their opinions to the candidates. Right now everything is in the candidates hand. We hope they will make serious changes that will benefit for the Asian and Latino communities as Erick said in his discussion time. For the candidates who did not show up, the audiences were frustrated and want to make a protest about their lack of caring towards the Asian community.

Growing Numbers, Growing Impact: Mayoral Candidates Forum

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