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.
Emily Weber is endorsed by Run for Something, a group that recruits and supports talented, passionate young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. Since its launch on inauguration day 2017, they’ve recruited 16,000 young people to run for office.
What is your full name?
What office are you seeking?
Missouri House of Representatives District 24. This is an open seat and I’m in a 3-way primary.
When is the election date?
August 4 for the Primary
November 3 for the General
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?
I’m adopted from South Korea and was born in Jinjoo city. My birth name is Ahn Ok Hyun. On March 2, 1984 I became a naturalized US citizen. I grew up in a rural community in Kansas and graduated from Butler Community College. I moved to Kansas City in the early 2000s to attend the Kansas City Art Institute and graduated with a degree in Graphic Design.
I’ve been an activist my entire life and have volunteered for many political campaigns in 2018, I worked on the Sharice Davids campaign, an anti-Kris Kobach campaign, and the Claire McCaskill campaign. I have supported campaigns like Vote No on Prop A, Fight for 15, and Clean Missouri. I also collected signatures for the Medicaid expansion petition. I serve on the board for the Women in Politics Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus and on the policy and summit committees for Climate Action KC.
How did you become inspired to seek elected office?
I worked on a campaign in Kansas to help elect Sharice Davidsget elected to Congress. She became the first Native American lesbian to serve in the House and, her campaign was an inspiration to us all. This was the most diverse and positive campaign I was a part of. Not only was she an amazing candidate and person but, she made sure her staff were people that were welcoming, positive, and were ready to make 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?
1) Increasing Access to Affordable Healthcare
I will fight for affordable healthcare for everyone in Missouri and look for any opportunities that will help. Expanding Medicaid would be a start and it would help 230,000 Missourians. I will work to implement policies that will increase access to healthcare throughout the state.
2) Supporting Public Education
Every child in Missouri deserves a quality education, but every year the Missouri legislature shortchanges public education funding. I’ll work for a funding formula that provides adequate support for Missouri schools and policies that ensure all students have access to a high-quality public education, regardless of race, class, gender or sexual orientation.
3) Protecting Our Reproductive Rights
Laws that restrict access to abortion care threaten a person’s ability to make the best decision for themselves and their family. This may jeopardize a person’s health and disproportionately impacts people of color and the poor. I’ll work to protect this right so Missourians can access the reproductive health care they need.
What impact has the current political climate had on you as an Asian American and/or Pacific Islander progressive seeking elected office?
I’ve been an activist my entire life, but what got me into working for progressive political candidates was an incident that occurred the day after the 2016 election. I was in a grocery store parking lot when a man yelled, “Go back to where you came from, China doll.” I knew then that I needed to get more involved. I’ve worked for progressive candidates and social campaigns in both Kansas and Missouri.
Missouri has been going down a dark path. I was concerned for our LGBTQIA community, because Missouri still has not passed a non-discrimination act. Our public schools need funding, but Missouri continues to cut funds each year. Plus, our reproductive rights continue to get attacked. Now more than ever, with COVID-19 and our fight for racial justice, I know my choice to run was the right decision. If we win the election, I will be the first Asian American woman elected to the Missouri House of Representatives.
What advice would you have for other young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently considering a career in politics and/or public service?
Get involved. Volunteer or support as many progressive candidates as possible and then run for something. Women, especially women of color, have to be asked multiple times before they consider running for office, so consider this your first ask.
The more our government starts to look like what America actually looks like, full of diverse people of all backgrounds, the more decisions will be made that will truly promote equality for everyone.
Where can readers go to learn more about you and your campaign?
How can readers get involved to help your campaign? Are there any upcoming events you’d like for us to know about?
Please check our social media sites for upcoming events. Some leaders in our community are holding a virtual event for the campaign on June 18, you can find more information about it from the Facebook event.
You can also sign up to volunteer or get emails and announcements from the campaign at our website.
If you are able to donate, please visit our ActBlue page:
Run for Something recruits and supports talented, passionate young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. Since its launch on inauguration day 2017, they’ve recruited 16,000 young people to run for office.
If you are a progressive Asian American or Pacific Islander running for elected office in 2020, and would like to be profiled in this series, please contact me for more information.