Fil-Am leaders call on Democratic presidential candidates to address needs of AAPI community

LOS ANGELES — A couple of hours before the last Democratic Presidential Debate of 2019, supporters rallied outside the venue’s entrance at Loyola Marymount University, holding signs that showed their bets and raising concerns and issues they want to see addressed.

Even supporters of President Donald Trump came to sound off, especially that Trump’s impeachment was a hot topic.

 Other points of contention were on climate change, women in politics, holding closed-door fundraisers, as well as political experience.

But these Filipino Democrats who were able to watch the debate live, said they were hoping to hear more from the seven candidates.

“There were a lot of great exchanges between the candidates as far as the Filipino community goes; there was a lot they still need to learn about, how to outreach and how to speak to our issues,” said Arnel Dino, Fil-Am Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair.

California State Assemblyman Rob Bonta was also among the audience. While he had supported Senator Kamala Harris before she dropped out of the race, he said he’s now in the process of picking a new candidate.

“I do have some friends in the race I know mayor Buttigieg we were in a leadership program. I went to law school and grad school with Senator Harris I know Tom Steyer I like to support my friends when I can I think they’re all talented in different ways so those were all in consideration but I have yet to finalize my choice.”

One Fil-Am official that already has his bet is West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who is a surrogate for South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“He showed strong leadership in the face of attacks and also what it means to be commander in chief and what it means to take the election and fight to Donald Trump and he spoke to all of America. What I appreciated the most was his focus on belonging and inclusion.”

For these Filipino Democratic leaders, with the elections drawing closer, they said it’s a time for the community to press the candidates to really address issues that truly matter to Asian Americans.

 “What we should look for is that we’re actually attending these debates and we’re being highlighted at these debates,” said Melissa Ramoso, Artesia Councilwoman, API State Caucus Chair. “I could count on one hand how many times the API community was talked about, and I can count how many campaigns are actually talking about the API community and it’s not as much as I had hoped for. We definitely have to be thought of rather than an afterthought.”

The next debate is scheduled for January 14th in Des Moines, Iowa. The qualifications for candidates have not yet been released.

As the field narrows, voters will get to see 4 more debates over the next two months. And whoever is left will have to court these California voters when the the state holds its primaries in on March 3rd.

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