Look Ma, No Fins

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Assemblyman Paul Fong and former school board member Eddie Chin

The Saint of Sharks still swims thanks to last year’s district lines. However, Assemblyman Paul Fong, chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting could only watch last year as a reform-minded redistricting committee redrew California’s political boundaries. “I had nothing to do with redistricting at all, except that I monitored them,” said Fong at an April SF Chinatown meeting. “I am the only Asian American who lost an Asian American district”… EXCLUSION ACT OF 2011: His revamped 28th Assembly District, where he’s seeking re-election June 5, has collapsed from a 44% Asian Pacific American district (former District 22) to 19% APA according to Fong. Out are at least three-quarters of the district – APA strongholds Cupertino, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara and North of San Jose. Although his district remains strongly Democratic, it’s more affluent and white, including Los Altos, Campbell and Cupertino. And in a concession to Latinos, he gave up east San Jose to bolster Latino representation…Despite radical district changes, Fong looks like the favorite as the former community college trustee faces engineer/college trustee Chad Walsh, a Republican-turned-independent…

Congressional candidate Otto Lee and daughter Hillary. (Courtesy of Otto Lee for Congress)

LONG-TERM GAINS: But by giving up APA strong neighborhoods, Fong said, “We can regain that by nurturing future candidates.” Growing APA communities from Fong’s old district have been seeded into Assembly Districts 24 (Cupertino and Sunnyvale) and 25 (San Jose and Santa Clara) respectively held by Rich Gordon and Bob Wieckowski…Fong’s election test, assuming he wins, could encourage more APA candidates to compete and win in arenas without substantial APA constituencies…

KEEP THIS SEAT WARM: District 24 could prove promising for Sunnyvale Councilman and former mayor Otto Lee, unless the Afghan war vet wins his District 22 Democratic congressional bid this November in a district made up of parts of Fresno, Tulare, Clovis and Visalia against incumbent Republican Devin Nunes in a new district where the GOP holds a 47%-34% edge over Democrats…THE LOW DOWN: Meanwhile, Campbell councilmember and former mayor Evan Low had geared up in 2011 to contend for an Assembly seat in 2012. However, Low’s paused as Fong’s district absorbed his home town of Campbell. Low still works for Fong as a senior field rep. As of last month, Low had $181,497 cash and has opened a 2014 campaign committee as he waits for a seat to open in 2014…

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (Courtesy of Assemblywoman Hayashi)

MUSICAL HOMES: Facing term limits in 2014, Fong has ruled out state senate runs. Moving into State Senate District 10 (42% APA, which includes parts of San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara) would have carpetbagged into a head-to-head battle with terming out Assemblywoman Mary Chung Hayashi – who recently pled guilty to shoplifting at SF’s Neiman-Marcus store. He’s also ruled out running against strong labor candidate Wieckowski for Senate District 15 (31% APA) where his Cupertino home is…

SOMETHING ABOUT MARY: Fong’s reluctance to run for state senate is insight into how strong Hayashi could be in surviving the criminal charge. Added to that, Hayashi – sniffing out the seat recently vacated by controversial Alameda County Supervisor Nadia

SF Democratic County Central Committee member Mary Jung, Ken Marquis, SF First Lady Anita Lee and county committee candidate Marily Mondejar

yer – was able to raise $31,850 out of $337,269 for a state senate run in the two months after the Oct. 28 alleged shoplifting. Her July 31 filing will reveal more as to whether the incident hurt her chances of running… FORGIVING VOTERS: For a blueprint, there’s Leland Yee’s alleged suntan shoplift. While opponents pummeled him over the two-bit lotion since 1992, Yee won at least eight terms in office at the county and state legislature level until he lost his bid for SF mayor in 2011. Lesson learned – voters can sometimes forgive on ethics as in the case of SF Mayor Gavin Newsom’s 2007 extramarital affair which he overcame to become Lt. Governor in 2010…

NOT FIN-SKINNED: “I like Leland [Yee]. I like him a lot. I support him even though we had a difference over shark fins,” Fong said…

NOT EVEN THE MAIN COURSE: Mayor Ed Lee reflecting on his emergence recalled legendary SF legislator Phil Burton and his brother, current California Democratic Party chair John Burton said as they organized Chinese American Democratic Club like future SF postmaster and AsianWeek columnist Lim P. Lee more than half a century ago: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you might be an item on the menu…54 years later we do have a seat at the table, we have a pretty big seat”…

TUESDAY FIELD TRIPS: If it’s Tech Tuesday after 5, the mayor takes a field trip to a new tech company. Rather than hearing the official line from high tech CEOs, the mayor’s lingering among employees, listening to their thoughts on what it takes to create an innovative environment to induce CEOs, CFOs and their investors to move into SF. The key is satisfying those top employees with a little more affordable housing, great transit and very high level cultural diversity. “That keeps their minds innovative and then they go to work for 15 hours per day inventing the newest applications…”

SF Democratic County Central Committee candidate Marily Mondejar, Entertainment Commissioner Al Perez and Ken Marquis

THINK PURE THOUGHTS: “She’s had me over the last six or seven years to think about the vagina more than I wanted to,” said Ken Marquis, director of Marily Mondejar’s Filipina Women’s Network edition of Vagina Monologues. Marquis is partner of Entertainment Commissioner Al PerezREAD HER LIPS: First Lady Anita Lee annually leads doctors to China to operate on girls with cleft lips…

MISS ME?: Follow me on Twitter at @SFPotstickers and email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.