There has been much anticipation around the 2022 midterm elections as the country waited to see if Democrats or Republicans would have control of Congress. The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community played a crucial part in these elections. Not only did the Asian American community make up 5.5% of eligible voters in the United States, a number of offices have been won by those from the AAPI community. The offices won include local, state, and national positions.
At the local level, Kenneth Mejia won the race for city controller in Los Angeles, California. Mejia is not only the first Asian American to win a citywide office in Los Angeles but is also the first Filipino elected official for the city. A certified public accountant, endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, Mejia is well qualified for the office of controller. During his campaign, Mejia made it clear that he would like to use his time in office to make the city budget easier to understand as well as combating the homelessness crisis.
The Republican 51st district of the Illinois House of Representatives has been flipped, and is now represented by Democratic candidate Nabeela Syed. A proud Indian Muslim American, Syed is 23 years old, and the youngest representative in the House. For Syed, interests in politics began with the election of President Donald Trump which was accompanied by an increase in racism and Islamophobia. She now takes office with the promise to combat such attitudes, fighting for such issues as equal rights, reproductive rights, and climate change.
Aruna Miller served the state of Maryland as representative at the Maryland House of Delegates from 2010 to 2018. Now, in 2022, Miller has made history as the first South Asian woman to be elected lieutenant governor in the United States. Immigrating to the United States from India in 1972, becoming a citizen in 2000, Miller is also the first immigrant to hold this office. Wes Moore, the first Black governor of Maryland, chose Miller as his running mate. Together they pledged to combat a number of issues including assisting in integrating immigrant communities, an issue close to Miller’s heart.
In Orange County, California, Michelle Steel won a heated race against Jay Chen for the seat belonging to District 45 in the United States House of Representatives. Steel, representing the Republican party, made history in 2020 being one of the first three Korean American women to be elected to Congress. This year, she defeated Chen, the Democratic representative, in this race between the two Asian American candidates. The AAPI community makes up a sizable portion of the total Orange County population, accounting for a third of eligible voters.
As of 2020, there was more than 25 million people in the United States who identified as AAPI. This number is growing, and as it does, having AAPI representatives in government becomes ever more important. Clearly, the AAPI community matters to America.
Travis Cole is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington DC. Obtaining his BA from Sichuan University, he is now a second-year graduate student at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School, studying International Development and Diplomacy.