HomeAsian AmericansFirst Two Asian Americans are Elected to New York State Senate

First Two Asian Americans are Elected to New York State Senate

Taiwanese American John Liu beat out three challengers to win New York’s District 11 Senate seat, and Indian American attorney Kevin Thomas defeated Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon for the state’s District 6 Senate seat, reports HuffPost.

The two Democratic immigrants made history as the first Asian Americans elected to New York’s state senate.

Thomas told HuffPost he is “deeply honored, humbled and proud to be the first Indian American in the New York State Senate in U.S. history.”

The Massapequa Patch reported Hannon’s loss to Thomas as a “shocking upset.”

Asian Americans comprise about nine percent of New York’s population, with New York City being home to the largest population of Asian Americans of all the U.S. cities. Resonate reports that Liu is also the first Taiwan-born U.S. state senator.

Liu said to HuffPost, “It’s nice to be among the first, but we should have had Asian Americans in the state senate long ago.”

Liu immigrated to the U.S. at five years old and grew up in Flushing, Queens. He was a member of the New York City Council and the first Asian American to win citywide office. He also served as New York City’s first Asian American comptroller from 2010 to 2013.

“As with all people, the more Asian Americans understand the impact people have on government and the impact government has on people such as in matters of education, healthcare, and economic opportunity, the more Asian Americans will engage in this democracy that America is about,” said Liu.

Thomas, who immigrated to the U.S. at ten years old, was appointed to the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2016. He is also known for his work as an attorney. He said that his experience defending student loan borrowers compelled him to run.

“When I saw what the Trump administration did to consumer protection, I knew I had to do something,” said Thomas. “I ran for office as my form of resistance. To do what I have always done, stand up for the little guy, to do what is right. As an Asian American, that is just who we are and those are the values my parents raised me with.

“I ran to represent everyone in my district and that is what I intend to do. But … I will certainly be bringing the issues of the Asian-American community to the state legislature.”

Photos of John Liu and Kevin Thomas are from their respective campaign pages.

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