Last week I posted on the Community Candidates Forum organized by Korean American Organizations in the Chicago area. It seems the forum was a big success, with over 200 people turning out to talk to their local candidates about the issues that matter to them.
For the first time in the Chicagoland area, candidates for Congressional House Districts 6, 9 and 10, as well as Illinois State House Districts 17, 57 & 65 addressed the Korean American community in a candidates’ forum. Responding to hot-button issues such as civil rights, economy, education, healthcare, immigrant integration, and immigration reform, participants included Dan Seals, Jill Morgenthaler, Elaine Netkritz and Elizabeth Coulson.
Inhe Choi, Senior Organizing Director at the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) said, “A historic first for the Korean American communities in Chicago, we organized this forum in response to the overwhelming interest by community members, many who will be voting for the first time this year. They want to hear from candidates about issues they care about.”
“I came to tonight’s candidates’ forum because I’ll be voting for the first time and wanted to hear firsthand from the candidates. I think that it’s great that someone like me who wants to fulfill my civic duty, but has English as my second language, could be this close to the candidates and understand their positions “, stated Sang Kyun Lee, a 78 year old new U.S. citizen.
“The presence of all these candidates shows that the Korean American’s voice is being heard. Like other immigrant communities, we are a growing force paying attention to races at the national, federal, state and local levels. I liked how the questions were posed to make it clear that Korean Americans share a vision of tomorrow that is inclusive, respects diversity, and values equality,” Young Ju Ji, a working mother of two small children.
It is inspiring and encouraging to see the level of civic participation happening around the country. Like I’ve said before, the immigrant vote will be so important in the upcoming election. Thanks to organizations like KRCC, new immigrant voters are able to deeply engage in the policies that will directly affect them and their communities.