Once again, a record number of Asian Americans and a growing number of Pacific Islanders are running for public office at the local, state, and national level.
Every week, Reappropriate will profile progressive AAPI candidates for higher office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2020 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.
What is your full name?
Alex Lee (李天明)
What office are you seeking?
California State Assembly District 25
When is the election date?
November 3, 2020
What is your party registration (if any)?
Tell me a little bit about your background in general, as well as your relationship to your identity as an Asian American and/or Pacific Islander?
Asian American, Gen Z, queer and progressive born and raised in the Bay Area — that’s the intersections of identity that I live as every day. My family immigrated from Hong Kong to the Silicon Valley, a place that has such great diversity that I had the privilege of growing up with people who looked like me, shared my cuisine, and understood my culture. I know this is not the norm for all Californians though.
I’m running to represent one of the only API plurality districts in California and if elected, I would become the youngest Asian American and first bisexual state legislator in California history. It’s an historic achievement that I do not take lightly.
Of utmost importance to me will be to use my lived experiences to forge a sustainable, affordable, and equitable future for all Californians. I will use my office and platform to fight for progressive change with urgency and bravery while encouraging more Asian Pacific Islanders to get directly involved in advocating for that such.
How did you become inspired to seek elected office?
Before I ran for State Assembly, I served as a legislative policy advisor in both the California State Senate and the State Assembly. California has a Democratic super-super majority, yet we have failed to advance progressive policies like universal healthcare, affordable housing, or a green new deal. We can do a lot better. I felt that frustration in the system and knew I had to fight for my community in the Assembly with my unique qualifying skills as someone who intimately knows the State Assembly.
2016 revealed that no one can idly sit on the sidelines anymore. We had to get into government and make it work for us, the people. 2020 is showing us more and more how important it is that we have progressive leaders in office who can not only lead us through crises, but also address them with long-term solutions. This is when we need great change and I’m proud to run as someone who is fighting for bold change.
What three issues do you think are most important to your constituents, and what step(s) do you plan to take to address them if elected?
End Corporate Influence in Elections: My first bill I plan to introduce would be to ban corporations from contributing to political candidates and measures. This is the first step in rebalancing our democracy, with more campaign finance reform and transparency, as well as publicly funded elections. This is also why I am committed to be remaining completely corporate-free and reject all corporate campaign contributions.
Fix the Housing Affordability Crisis: Housing is a human right; a right that is being denied to hardworking families in the Bay Area and in California. This is my top district-specific priority. Especially in these hard times, I will advocate for the preservation and production of affordable housing, tenant rights, and champion Social Housing. We can no longer rely on the profit-seeking private market to deliver homes for housing’s sake. If elected, I will seek to introduce measures to protect renters, tax purposefully vacant units, create a property transfer tax on expensive homes, and strengthen public social housing in California.
Ensure Universal Healthcare: Now more than ever, we’re proving that tying healthcare to employment is not working. I will work with activists to achieve single-payer universal healthcare and end the byzantine maze of navigating healthcare costs.
What impact has the current political climate had on you as an Asian American and/or Pacific Islander progressive seeking elected office?
2020 alone has shown us the need for real, progressive leadership. We are living in truly appalling times, but these crises are not new. Every uprising against racial injustice has parallels dating back to as recent as 2014 with the murder of Michael Brown, and even as far back as the inception of this country. Missteps in public health policy echo back to 1918’s global pandemic, and every alarming instance of white supremacy and authoritarianism has parallels with nearly a century ago. We know these challenges we face are not knew and we have the lessons to course correct before its too late.
What advice would you have for other young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently considering a career in politics and/or public service?
Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself. You know your passions and commitment to serving your community better than anyone. There will be those who doubt you because of your age or how you look or how you speak or what you believe in, but do not let that doubt undermine your aspirations. When you are ready to serve, you will know it. We need young, progressive leaders now more than ever so take the brave step and challenge the status quo.
Where can readers go to learn more about you and your campaign?
You can learn more at:
- Website: VoteAlexLee.com
- Twitter: @VoteAlexLee2020
- Facebook: @VoteAlexLee
- Instagram: @VoteAlexLee
- Donate: VoteAlexLee.com/Donate
How can readers get involved to help your campaign? Are there any upcoming events you’d like for us to know about? (150 words or less)
Stay in the loop via our social media (see above)! We will have more events in the summer and fall!
If you are a progressive Asian American or Pacific Islander running for or currently serving in elected office in 2020, and would like to be profiled in this series, please contact me for more information.