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Asian Americans could have big say in California recall Tuesday

California Governor Gavin Newsom is making a big push for the Asian American vote as they go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to recall him. So is the leading Republican hoping to unseat him, conservative radio host Larry Elder, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Asian Americans make up about 1 out of 6 registered voters in the country’s most populous state.

“I’m really proud of being a governor of a majority-minority state that at best doesn’t just tolerate diversity but celebrates diversity,” Newsom said to the congregation at one of the biggest Korean church’s in the country, Young Nak Church of Los Angeles.

“It was Gov. Gavin Newsom who hurt Korean small businesses,” Elder told Korean American media in Koreatown. “He must be recalled.”

The recall is primarily being fueled by the Republican party in a state where they comprise just 24% of voters. The GOP capitalized on anger incited by Newsom’s swift action to shut down California in the face of the coronavirus to qualify the recall for the ballot.

Under state rules, it’s possible for Newsom to get more votes than any of the 40 candidates that hope to unseat him, and still lose.

There are two questions on the ballot. The first asks if Newsom should be recalled. The second asks who should replace him.

Newsom must get a 50% plus one no vote to keep his job. If he fails, the candidate who comes out on top, irregardless of how many votes, will step in to replace him.

Phuoc Dam explained to the Los Angeles Times why he supports the recall.

“It’s simple. He cost us our livelihood,” said Dam, 67. “We had to shut down for months and months for no clear reason.”

A poll released by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies found that 70% of Asian Americans oppose the recall. That’s the second strongest opposition of any group except African Americans who oppose the recall by 73%.

Yet the Times also found strong resentment among Vietnamese Americans towards Newsom.

Many are still upset at a comment the governor made which appeared to blame the first case of the coronavirus in California on a nail salon, an industry dominated by Vietnamese Americans.

“Certainly, there’s a sense of insult to the community when a core group of its members has been portrayed negatively like this — especially when that community historically has leaned toward the Republicans” said Sara Sadhwani, assistant professor of politics at Pomona College.

Vietnamese Americans are strongly anti-communist given that many fled their home country to escape the communist regime after the fall of Saigon. They have historically leaned Republican.

However, Tammy Kim, Vice Mayor of Irvine, is confident Asian Americans overall, will vote no to the recall as a threat to Democracy.

“When you talk about from the standpoint of our democracy and our vote counting… that’s the message that resonates the most with our community,” she told the Bee.

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    By: Mariel Toni Jimenez*

    With so much publicity on CA Governor Gavin Newsom, I felt compelled to speak on the positive aspects of his tenure as Governor of California.

    When he won the seat of CA Governor, he was already lined up for this post as he was the Lieutenant Governor of California. His presence since he was a mainstay in San Francisco politics goes way back when I was a news reporter for a local SF ethnic media station. I remember vividly as I would make it to his office on a Monday or Tuesday morning to get his soundbytes/comments on the news roundup from his office when he was on the Board of Supervisors.

    Gavin as Mayor of San Francisco made some long strides with the LGBTQ community when he introduced and implemented “Same-Sex Marriage”. He was the first public official to bring national attention to the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, that caused several other states to change their laws concerning marriage and gay rights.

    Then he also dealt with the homeless issue head-on “Care not Cash” with his then assistant Alex Tourk by his side, where I can remember was the most effective and cleanest that I have seen San Francsco since I have lived there. When the change of arms occurred and Ed Lee became Mayor, somehow the focus of that administration was for the tech-savvy workforce, and the issue of homelessness was swept to the side.

    Fast forward to today, the question is “What has Gov. Newsom done for California?” The pandemic of COVID-19 has made him declare Shelter-In-Place, provide temporary housing for the homeless, and ask the federal government for more support for the people of California.

    Also, during Summer 2020, when George Flloyd was brutally murdered by an Officer while on duty, this incident brought and showcased racism, discrimination, prejudice, police misconduct, disparity in communities of color, and how black lives to a police officer does not mean much. Whilst the millions of people were marching for equality, and a stop to police misconduct, from the East Coast to the West Coast, on the other hand, in Sacramento, California, advocates for Ethnic Studies, within all 23 California State Universities were busy with the movement of AB 1460, legislation that pertains to education code section 89032 and basically says: Commencing with 2021-22 academic year, would require the California State University to provide for courses in ethnic studies at each of its campuses. Assemblymember Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat and author of the bill AB 1460 taught Africana Studies, and ethnic studies discipline, at San Diego State University. She and other backers called the CSU ethnic studies and social justice plan watered-down.

    There was a lot of push from the CSU Chancellor’s office to railroad the Bill. In the last month after approval in the California Senate, the leaders of the California State University thought they sent a signal to Sacramento: Let the university system pick its own curriculum.

    Instead, the governor and lawmakers clearly thought differently.

    A little over a year ago, in the evening of August 17, 2020 Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law, simultaneously mandating that students take ethnic studies as a graduation requirement at the 23-campus system and overruling the university’s more modest graduation requirement for an ethnic studies and social justice requirement that it approved in July 2020.

    The Legislature passed the bill on August 3rd, 2020.

    The four ethnic and racial groups that stem from the Third World Liberation Front Strike on 1969 at San Francisco State University, namely are Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latina and Latino Americans. The Discipline and courses of Ethnic Studies typically examine the power dynamics, persecutions and contributions that affect these groups which when combined account for approximately two-thirds of the population of California.

    The governor’s signature means the bill supersedes the graduation requirement approved by CSU leadership earlier last summer.

    Beginning in 2021-2022 academic year, CSU has to provide for courses in ethnic studies at each of its campuses. The graduation requirement of one, 3-unit course begins for students completing their degrees in the 2024-25 academic year.

    Co-author of the bill is Assembly member David Chiu, Chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and Democrat from San Francisco. “This has been a priority bill for us” said Chu during last August virtual rally.

    So for those of you who are wondering what Gov. Gavin Newsom has done, this is one of those milestones that as a university professor, I will always look back and say, “He did the right thing, and did not allow politics or board relations to stand in the way of doing what is best for California’s college students.”

    Governor Gavin Newsom has done a lot of good for California, Vote NO on the RECALL!

    * Former broadcast journalist with Filipino-American Report, KMTP-TV 32, San Francisco. Contributing writer for Positively Filipino. Teaches Ethnic Studies & Asian American Studies at CSU Sacramento and University of California, Davis.

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