‘We need more Asian-American/Pacific Islander in the Biden admin’ –Sen. Hirono

by Elpidio R. Estioko

Hawaii Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono is pushing for more Asian American and Pacific Islander representation in President Joe Biden’s administration. I agree with her! I think it’s a good and logical move calling for more diversity. We badly need it!

With the appointment of Asian American lawmaker Rob Bonta as California’s Attorney General (AG), she should be happy because this is in line with her idea of more Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in combating racism, social injustice and rampant crime incidents/gun control.

At the national level, Hirono bats for more Asians in the Biden administration.

“I welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice,” Hirono said on Twitter. “I had a productive conversation with the White House [on Tuesday] to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President’s cabinet.”

In the light of the recent hate crimes leveled against Asian Americans, the appointment of Bonta by California Governor Gavin Newsom is a welcome move, very timely, and an excellent appointment!

Newsom said in a statement: “Rob represents what makes California great – our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices.”

It takes an Asian to understand the fate of Asians! It was very timely, and I think Newsom was just right in selecting Bonta to be California’s AG because he is a fighter, a crusading lawmaker, and a principled government official. This concept should apply to all appointments in the present administration.

Let us not forget though that Bonta got the job, not because he was Asian, but because he has a extensive experience and credibility as a progressive lawmaker, and as a result, many individuals and groups applauded his appointment.

Bonta is the first Filipino American to be the state’s AG and only other Asian besides Vice President Kamala Harris.

He was born in the Philippines and grew up in the Central Valley, where his parents’ civil rights activists Cynthia and Warren Bonta, helped organize farmworkers alongside iconic labor activists Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong.

The Bonta family eventually moved to the Sacramento area but he remained associating with the workforce and the farm workers, just like his parents were.

Calling his appointment “the honor of a lifetime,” he said he became a lawyer “because I saw the best way to make a positive difference for the most people.”

He is a graduate of Yale University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and his law degree. He was a former San Francisco deputy city attorney, and served briefly in the Alameda City Council before running for State Assembly. He was first elected as a State Assemblyman in 2012 and has represented the East Bay since then.

I remember his first bill (AB 123) becoming law when it was signed by then Governor Jerry Brown. He cared for the working class and with this law he sponsored, he elevated the status of the contributions of the Filipino American farmers (known as the Manongs who led the first farm protest in Delano known as the “Grape Uprising” in 1965 to raise better farm working condition and wages) in their contributions to the California’s farm labor movement.

The Prosecutors Alliance of California applauded his appointment in a statement saying: “As a State Assembly member, Mr. Bonta fought to end cash bail and cure the conflict of interest that occurs when elected prosecutors receive financial and political support from law enforcement unions. He is a leader that has dedicated his career to protecting and uplifting vulnerable communities.”

Karthick Ramakrishna, a professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside, who has worked with Bonta on the state’s Commission on Asian-American Pacific Islander Affairs (AAPIA), said “Mr. Bonta has been really strong on immigrant rights.”

He pushed for more transparency from law enforcement agencies about their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, and thus sought better data collection on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities – information that advocates have said is crucial for addressing hate crimes and incidences of discrimination.

With these credentials, he is a very good fit for the AG position and Newsom was just right in nominating him.

Congratulatory messages were sent by Immediate past president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Hawaii (UPAA – Hawaii) Jun Gappe; Milpitas Councilmember Evelyn Chua; Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran; former councilmember Atty. Gary Barbadillo; former District Assemblyman and now a member of the Berryessa School Board Kansen Chu;  Santa Clara County Commissioner Linda Reyes; Founding President of The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) Lino Caringal, Jr.; former PUP Professors Lito Roldan , Rudolfo Brillantes, Former Dean Dr. Roman Dannug, who are now residents of California; and Immediate Past President of Milpitas Executive Lions Club Benjie Fernandez.

Attorney General Rob Bonta, congratulations and more power to you! The Asian American community is behind you and will make sure you succeed in your new job as the top law enforcer in California!

Also, kudos to Sen. Hirono for fighting for more diversity in the Biden administration!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

Read more:
Prioritizing Priorities: Rolling the Economy Back to Normal, A Biden’s Thrust
Mauling For Money Against Elderly Asians Transforms To Hate Crimes

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