Question from Sandy Chang…
What is your position on bilingual services?
I am a Yes on bilingual services
My wife and I immigrated to the United States 40 years ago. The only difference between my US citizenship and that of a native born citizen is I had a choice, and I chose to become a US citizen. Like all Americans, I have to pledge my allegiance to the flag and the United States Republic for which it stands. As the only truly bilingual candidate in this year’s election – and not just the city council race, but all the races in Alameda – I am the only candidate from the immigrant community. We are a nation of immigrants and a basic democratic principle in America is the right to immigrate and seek citizenship. Diversity does not only mean gender and ethnicity, but also diversity in family background, in religion, in culture, in education, and in experience. I will bring a different and important perspective to the City Council. Our nation was built on the backs of immigrants, and I believe that without legal immigration, our country would not be nearly as strong as we currently are. Can you imagine if immigrants like Albert Einstein, John Muir, Jerry Yang of Yahoo, Steve Chen of You Tube, or Elon Musk of Tesla had not chosen to become Americans? Likewise, we have athletes and entertainers like the Terminator, Steve Nash and Dikembe Mutombo, and even our first lady is a foreign born American, whose immigrant parents have recently become citizens.
A top priority for me is to expand and improve the quality of life for all of our residents Alameda’s population is currently about 45 percent persons of color, and a significant portion of this percentage is residents who are foreign born citizens or non-citizens. This immigrant population has traditionally been underrepresented in city hall, both in elected offices and on our many boards and commissions. One result of this has become clear as I walk precincts, where I have met and spoken to countless new residents, often with limited English proficiency, who are afraid to seek for city services because they do not understand the system or do not know who to turn to who can understand them. Repeatedly, they ask me questions that can easily be answer by a call to city hall or a few strokes on the keyboard. This has made me realize that we, as a city, need to provide a program of bilingual services to our residents, especially our most recent newcomers.