Mai Vang, A Councilwoman with a Mission
Photo courtesy of SacBee's article, "Mai Vang claims Sacramento’s District 8 City Council seat after Les Simmons’ concession"
May is AAPI Awareness and Appreciation Month
Many Asian and Pacific Islander women have risen to the top of their chosen fields, becoming leaders for Women and girls of all races.
Patsy Mink, for example, was a third generation Japanese-American who was elected in 1964 as the first Asian American woman in the U.S. Congress. In her four decades there, she championed the rights of immigrants and women and children, by backing Title IX, the legislation that brought academic and athletic equity to American educational institutions.
Mink said, "It is easy enough to vote right and be consistently with the Majority. But it is more often important to be ahead of the majority, and this means being willing to cut the first furrow in the ground and stand alone for a while if necessary."
In Sacramento, CA, Mai Vang is the first Asian Woman of Hmong descent to serve as a member of the City Council, winning her seat in District 8 in 2020. Vang says, "District 8 has incredible diversity with many cultures, not only of Asians but Black and Latino Communities as well. I work through trusted messengers who are my team's eyes and ears on the ground, to represent everyone." District 8 is bordered on the north by a portion of Florin Road, on the South by Mack Road, with a southern section reaching along Stockton Blvd. to Sheldon Road.
"I grew up in this neighborhood. I was the first in my family to go to college at UCLA. When I came back, I started noticing that there was an education gap among the young people. As an activist, they were my initial focus. I was elected to and served as a school board member for one term. Youth engagement is one of my highest priorities."
Today, Councilwoman Vang is stepping forward to speak out against acts of violence directed at the AAPI Community.
"AAPI have been discriminated against since the start of this Country. We had the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1862 prohibiting Chinese immigration. Prior to that, the Page Act of 1875 prohibited Asian American women from immigrating into the United States. We can help people understand our lives by teaching our history. We can also acknowledge our hurt when we are the target of Hate, and we must condemn it. "
Helping her District through the Pandemic is one of Councilwoman Vang’s first priorities. Zip Code 95823 in District 8 has one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the County. "We started with one vaccination site on Friday at the Sam Pannell clinic," Vang says. Now we are running it every Friday with as much outreach to the community as possible. Now we are getting shots in arms. Many in our AAPI Community are multigenerational households. We also have many essential workers who are exposed to the public every day."
Mai Vang enjoys representing District 8. "Being a Councilwoman has been a lot like the campaign. A lot of Heart and Hustle. I do a lot of site visits and have an incredible team to help. I'm busy from morning to night because the need is dire. I'm running as if in a marathon, and right now I am sprinting."
To see more about AAPI Outstanding Women, go to our Facebook page at sacnwpc.
Written by Susan E. Holbrook,
NWPC Communications Co-chair and Board Member At-Large