UDO and World Journal

Chinese-American Voters Federation District Leaders Forum – Translation

With the September 13 Democratic Primary approaching, the Chinese-American Voters Federation (CAVF), held a forum at CCBA on August 20. CAVF invited those who are active in the community and Board of Elections staff to explain the functions of District Leaders, to encourage citizens, young and old, to understand their rights to vote, to learn about the grassroots political participation, and to participate in the electoral process. They are preparing voters for next year’s presidential election.

The forum was hosted by Virginia Wong President of CAVF. Speakers included Ethel Chen, District Leader of 22 AD Part A in Queens, Jenny Low, District Leader of 65th AD Part D in Chinatown, and Board of Elections representatives, Judith Caserta and Joanne Liu.

Ethel Chen pointed out that District Leaders are unpaid elected party positions with 2-year terms. The position is important in the community as the District Leaders help to nominate City Council Members, judges and party leader. The District Leaders appoint poll workers and as well as serves as a bridge between the voters and elected officials. Many elected officials started their political career as District Leaders. Candidates for District Leaders have to collect at least 500 valid voters’ signatures to get nominated. They also need to participate in many events and functions within the party. She hopes that more Chinese-Americans participate in the electoral process, run for political office, and learn to collaborate with African Americans and Latinos to fight for their rights.

Immigrated to the U.S. when she was 13, Jenny Low said that she had to learn English from scratch when she arrived. She was very grateful to her junior high school teacher, Virginia Kee, Founder of United Democratic Organization, for teaching her the value of volunteerism. Jenny became a volunteer to help elect President Jimmy Carter. She encourages fellow Chinese-Americans to actively participate in the political process, hence fully integrating into the mainstream. With full participation, the voices of the Chinese-Americans will be heard.

Judith Caserta also encouraged voters in Chinatown and Little Italy band together to increase their strength. Joanne Liu pointed out that the Chinese-American voters can learn from the Latinos, African-American, and Jewish voters. She suggested that parents teach their children the importance of political participation and help them understand the electoral process because this is an important lesson as they grow up. The children can volunteer during their summer and take part and pride in helping candidates win elections.

Participants at the forum included: York Chan, Founding President of CAVF, Johnson Lee, CAVF Senior Advisor, Kwok Kee Ng, Vice President of Lin Sing Association, David Louie, Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Member, and King Sing Yee, President of Free Mason.