AsianWeek Interviews With San Francisco’s Mayoral Candidates: Phil Ting

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With Asian Americans comprising approximately one-third of the city’s population, the next mayor of San Francisco should have plans to address issues relevant to this robust community.

To ensure that they do, AsianWeek.com has invited all of the 16 mayoral candidates–including six well qualified and prominent Asian Americans: Mayor Ed Lee, California State Senator Leland Yee, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Wilma Pang a longtime community activist and college professor–to share with our readers their solutions to what they deem the most prevalent problems in the Asian American community.

Beginning Oct. 24, 2011 and leading up to the Nov.8 election, AsianWeek.com will be highlighting a different mayoral candidate.

Featured in this installment is San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting.

1. What is (are) the greatest health issue(s) facing Asian American Pacific Islanders (API’s) and what will you do as mayor to address it (them)?

One in ten Asian & Pacific Islander Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. It is of the utmost importance to me that we take preventive measures to address health issues – not just affecting the API community but every San Franciscan.
HBV known as the “silent killer” because many individuals don’t exhibit symptoms and don’t realize they’re infected.

We should expand and encourage more testing for HBV, while also making tests more accessible to residents. If anything, we need to ensure that individuals receive adequate treatment and understand the risk they pose to society if they are actually infected. The great work of active community members, like the Hepatitis C Task Force, goes a long way to map steps we can take in order to protect our city and neighbors. Sometimes it takes a compassionate community to really increase adequate awareness. That’s what my campaign to Reset San Francisco is all about – empowering the community to get engaged and to get involved in making San Francisco even better.

If elected Mayor, I would work with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to ensure we’re working to implement public education programs for prevention and treatment. In conjunction with these education programs, the City also needs to improve its methods for gathering data – so we can track outbreaks and target the neediest neighborhoods with high rates of infection. My campaign to Reset San Francisco focuses on the necessity for data-driven decision-making, so our city government can be more effective and more responsive.

2. Why should Asian American voters choose you as their next mayor?

Asian Americans in San Francisco face the same challenges as every other San Franciscan. And to find the solutions to these problems, we need to start working together to come up with solutions that work for us all.

All of the candidates are talking about more jobs, but I’m actually working to create them. I co-founded ChinaSF with Gavin Newsom and have helped attract more Chinese companies to the US and created new jobs for San Franciscans. I’ve seen the incredible economic benefit of building this bridge between San Francisco and Asia. I also launched GoSolarSF, which has created hundreds of high-wage green jobs for the entire community.

As one of San Francisco’s highest-ranking Chinese officials, I understand how important equality is for our citizens. As Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus, an organization founded in 1972 to advance and promote the legal and civil rights of the Asian Pacific Islander community, I work hard to ensure that all San Franciscans receive fair treatment under the law.

I bring together the values of a civil rights advocate, the training of a business consultant and the hard-won experience of turning around one of the City’s worst agencies. I reformed the reformed the Assessor-Recorder’s office, bringing in $300 million in new revenue – without raising taxes.

I’m running to be San Francisco’s next mayor because I know we can do better as a city. But to do better, we all have to become more engaged and hold all politicians accountable (including me) – and hold our government accountable.

We need tools to get involved. We need to have facts. We need to understand what other cities are doing – so we can ask our government why we can’t implement those ideas as well. Why can’t we do better? And we need to build a better sense of community – both online and offline. I started Reset San Francisco to give voice to everyone who lives and works in San Francisco but doesn’t have the time or the opportunity to be involved.

I would be proud to be San Francisco’s first elected Chinese-American mayor.

3. What type of relationships do you have with San Francisco’s Asian American community?

I have worked my entire life on behalf of working and underserved Asian American communities. As a Chinese American, I am aware of what affects our community and pose challenges to achieving equality in our city. My experience as an advocate of the Asian American community demonstrates my commitment to community interests. I would be honored to continue my lifelong work by championing Asian American causes as we fight, together, on behalf of San Francisco’s diverse communities.

I co-founded ChinaSF, which is a public-private partnership dedicated to creating economic development opportunities by making San Francisco the gateway for Chinese companies looking to establish business operations in the Bay Area.

Beyond the economic benefit, we cannot realize our full potential as a city if we don’t have more people involved in San Francisco civic life. That’s why I started Reset San Francisco to give voice to everyone who lives and works in San Francisco but doesn’t have the time or the opportunity to be involved. To the extent that my candidacy, these new opportunities with Reset San Francisco, and the candidacy of other Asian Americans draws more of our community into civic life, the whole city will be stronger.

4. What are some prevalent problems in SF’s Asian American community?

Asian Americans face the same issues as every other San Franciscan.  We need to make sure government works, and we need a balanced budget.  If our budget is not balanced, we can’t fund public schools, police and fire stations and MUNI.

If MUNI doesn’t work, then sadly, neither can we. So many San Franciscans depend on reliable public transportation. And as mayor, I will focus on making MUNI faster and more reliable. Solutions are out there – we just need a leader with the courage to take the lead and to implement good ideas.

To make our city work, we need to focus on making government more efficient, more responsive and more open to innovative ideas. I’ve seen this in my own career in government, taking over a dysfunctional agency and helping it to work effectively. Because we closed loopholes and cleared much of our backlog at the Assessor’s office, we now have hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend on schools, MUNI, job creation and other programs – all without raising taxes.
City Hall needs to listen to San Franciscans and engage them to get involved. That’s what my Reset San Francisco campaign is all about – making sure everyone’s voice is heard, not just the API community but every community.

5. How do you plan on responding to these problems?

San Francisco is full of diversity, and we have one of the largest populations of Asian immigrants in the nation. In order to keep our city strong and diverse, we need to provide our immigrant population with the resources for language acquisition and job placement because government should fight for the people who cannot always fight for themselves. I understand how important our struggle for civil rights equality is, and I have worked to protect San Franciscans throughout my career in both the public and private sector.

While serving as Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus, I saw firsthand the challenges that members of our community face as they fight for equality under the law. We need to guarantee that the civil rights of all San Franciscans are protected.

As mayor, I will continue fighting for greater equality for the API community. I will ensure MUNI is faster and more reliable, work to make city government more efficient and responsive, and create more jobs for San Franciscans to stimulate our economy.

There are solutions. But all too often, politicians don’t have the creativity, the commitment or the courage to innovate. That’s why better policy is just too important to leave to the politicians alone.

If politicians could solve all of our problems, we wouldn’t have so many. That’s why, as mayor, I will strive to engage the community to get involved and to participate. On Reset San Francisco, we are pushing City Hall to get better in all the ways, big and small, that add up to a San Francisco that is an easier place to live, work and raise a family.

Phil Ting for Mayor 2011

​​www.ResetSanFrancisco.org

About the Author

Tiffany Louie is an Asian American born in San Francisco, obsessed with SF Giants baseball, Hello Kitty, good food, politics, and dogs (not necessarily in that order).