by : Myrna Aquitania
In the recent “Meet and Greet Leland Yee” event held at the Solarium of the Lafayette Hotel in Long Beach last Saturday, a select group of Fil-Ams listened to Senator Leland Yee’s vision for California as he announced his bid for the post of Secretary of State in the upcoming 2014 election.
For the past six months, the Saturday event was the third time I met Senator Yee. I first met him during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January when our media group, the Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles (estab. 1978) hosted a dinner meeting with him and his associates which included Philippine News publisher, Francis Espiritu, Dr. Wilson Lim and Rey Mascariñas.
During that brief meeting, he already announced that he was seeking the Secretary of State position in the coming elections and he mentioned that “in the past, the largest number of immigrants were Latinos, but in the coming years, it will be Asians and the largest number in that group are Filipinos.”
Likewise, in last Saturday’s event coordinated by Malou Mariano, Dr. Yee stressed the importance of voter registration particularly in our Fil-Am community. He “believes it’s about time we celebrate the contribution of your community in order to enable your voices heard by having your community votes count.” He is also passionate about eliminating human trafficking, promoting Obamacare, mental health issues and Immigration Reform.
Among the many important bills Senator Yee has introduced was a resolution calling on Congress to pass legislation restoring the Voting Rights Act. “SJR 14 called for legislation to replace Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit any changes in voting law to a panel of judges to assure that the changes did not unjustly prevent minorities from voting. “
The second time I met Dr. Yee was when he visited our Balita office last month, during our Friday buffet, where he was featured on our colleague Janelle So’s “Kababayan Today,” weekly TV program.
On his website, one of Dr. Leland Yee’s mission as Secretary of State will be “the use of technology to advance our democracy, increase government transparency and or support small businesses.”
Currently, according to Bernardo Bernardo’s introduction during the recent Saturday event, Senator Yee is a State Senator for District 8, which represents a large portion of East Central California. Prior to becoming a State Senator, he was a California State Assemblyman, Supervisor of San Francisco’s Sunset District and he was a former member and President of the San Francisco School Board.
In 2004, the Senator became the first Asian American to be appointed Speaker Pro Tempore, making him the second highest-ranking Democrat in the California State Assembly.
What is most impressive in Leland Yee is his humility in relating that he was raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown district and he grew up amongst his Filipino friends, honoring their traditions. He attended San Francisco’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Middle School, earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley , a master’s degree from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D in Child Psychology from the University of Hawaii.
Maestro Robert Shroeder’s flute rhapsody rendition of “America The Beautiful” whose lyrics were written by Kathrine Lee Bates was apropos for Leland Yee’s vision for a great California to quote: “America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” Mabuhay, Senator Leland Yee, we wish you all the best in your quest for a greater State.