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COMMUNITY VOICES: on political engagement

"As an extensive study by the Pew Research Center pointed out this year, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the highest earners, the most educated and the fastest-growing ethnic group in the nation. Politicians have no excuse for not reaching out to a key bloc of voters as we approach Election Day." Doris Truong, National President, Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
"Politicians should engage the AAPI community through mainstream and ethnic media. Politicians who don't are going to lose out - not just on potential votes, but on a connection to one of the fastest growing communities in the country." Paul Chueng, National President-Elect, Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
"If a candidate wishes to receive support of any group, whether it's veterans or Asian Americans, he must engage in dialogue with the group." Edward Chow, Jr., Vietnam veteran
"The Asian American community has become a potent, ever growing demographic in this country socially and politically. We represent a bloc of voters that may well be the swing vote of this critical election, and our voices deserve to be heard. I hope both candidates are listening."
Chiling Tong, Chief Executive Officer, International Leadership Foundation
"Asian Americans will be the deciding swing voters in the November elections. Candidates and incumbent elected officials have a greater chance of getting our vote if there is direct interface with our Asian American community. Our community cannot be taken for granted and presumed to vote one way or another. This dynamic is changing. Our vote will go to the candidate that speaks to us." Hung Nguyen, Chair, Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia
"The Asian American community is growing rapidly. However, both presidential campaigns have yet to engage our community seriously. With a large number of Asian American voters not yet committed, we hope that both presidential campaigns will make extra effort to reach out to these undecided voters. We will not be taken for granted." Michael C. Lin, President, Asian American Political Alliance in Maryland
"The latest Census shows that Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country, yet candidates and political parties have largely overlooked this important group of voters. Every election cycle provides an opportunity for candidates and party leaders to have conversations with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that should not be missed. If they do not consider how their work, priorities, and policy decisions can give voice to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, others who do will receive the votes." Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
"Candidates and political parties cannot take the Asian American and Pacific Islander electorate for granted. APIAVote is very dismayed with the lack of resources and attention being placed by the Presidential campaigns in comparison to previous years. We are growing in a numbers of areas where we are seeing close races being won, and both parties need to invest in reaching out to our community. Consistently, poll after poll, we are seeing that, on average, over 31% of AAPI voters are still undecided even a month out from the elections. Currently many Asian Americans don't know the difference between the parties because they haven't been engaged by the Democrats or the Republicans. AAPI voters are loyal to candidates who take the time and resources to engage in them early on and address and fight for the issues they care about." Christine Chen, Executive Director, APIAVote
"The Asian American voter can be the game breaker in close races. The candidates would do well to pay attention to this rising influence of Asian Americans in getting out to vote and voice opinions. No longer are we the sleeping giant. We are the roaring giant demanding reason and fairness from our elected officials. Candidates have ignored the arteries that feed information to much of the Asian American electorate." Floyd Mori, National Executive Director Emeritus, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
"It is one thing to reach out to the Asian community for money and votes; quite another for advice and understanding. So far, we have been mostly playing a cheerleading or supporting role. Until the parties and the campaigns learn to engage our communities on a continuous basis and, better yet, to cultivate true leadership in the Asian community, we will continue to see organizations or individuals swooping down to seek our support when needed, then disappearing into thin air." Lily Qi, Vice Chair, Maryland Governor's Commission for Asian American Affairs
"Asian American and Pacific Islander women are an important constituency and are directly impacted by all of the policy debates currently raging - health care, economy, education. We deserve to have our needs and concerns heard by our politicians. As AAPIs continue to grow in number and strength, candidates can ill afford to ignore us." Miriam Yeung, MPA, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
"The Asian American vote will be a game changer in the upcoming elections. There is a tremendous opportunity for candidates who are willing to put in the effort to reach out to Asian Americans and engage our communities in the election process. The candidate who can effectively speak to Asian Americans will gain an important edge in battleground states." Tina Matsuoka, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
"The long tradition of hardship, perseverance, loyalty, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders helped shape our nation into a world power. Yet, there is a sense among AAPI voters of being discounted by the same elected leaders who have been long supported by the AAPI community. Our elected leaders must actively interact with our community, to be visible and hear our concerns if they want to be able to count on our votes. We are resilient and strong, and have a powerful voice. We will be heard by voting for leaders we can count on! Antonio "Tony" Taguba, Major General, U.S. Army (retired), Chairman, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM)
"The political engagement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has surged in recent years. Nationwide, the AAPI community is coming out to vote and volunteer, donating millions to political candidates, and running for elected office in historic numbers. The candidates or parties that make an effort to capitalize on this momentum will have a tremendous political advantage in 2012 and beyond. Likewise, those that choose to disregard this growing electorate do so at their own peril." Gene Kim, Executive Director, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
"Candidates must value the contribution of immigrants in the economic prosperity of our great nation. Asian Americans can change the political landscape of the November Elections. We are a political force and we cannot be ignored." Grace Valera-Jaramillo, Jesse Garchalian, Arnedo Valera, Migrant Heritage Commission Executive Directors
"APAs are more engaged in the electoral process than ever before. We are markedly building our political clout in this country. APAs, whether as candidates running for office or as a voter bloc regardless of party affiliation, are engaged in the political process more than ever because, like the rest of the country, we have high stakes in the policy outcomes on immigration, economic development, education, and health care." Tom Hayashi, Executive Director, Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)
"South Asians are becoming an increasingly powerful segment of the American electorate. According to the recent Census figures, between 2000 and 2010, the South Asian American population became the fastest growing major ethnic group in the United States. South Asians are looking to political parties to connect with them on issues such as the economy, health equity, immigration and civil rights?" Deepa Iyer, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
"President Obama believes deeply in the talents of the Asian American community and has both tapped into them through a record number of high-ranking appointments and listened better through the newly constituted White House Initiative on AAPIs. He was the first to personally host a Diwali celebration in the White House and has consistently championed the cause of a government that works for everyone. I'm proud of his record on AAPIs and am confident we will make the difference in this crucial election." Aneesh Chopra, former Obama White House Chief Technology Officer (running for Lt. Governor of Va in 2013)

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