LOS ANGELES: Thirteen Filipino-Americans, all Democrats, won national and state positions in California, Hawaii and Virginia in the Nov 6 elections.
Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta made history in California as he became the first Filipino-American to be elected to the State Assembly.
In Hawaii, the Nov 6 elections brought a clean sweep of wins for all 11 Fil-Ams running for the state’s House of Representatives and Senate.
In Virginia, Robert “Bobby” Scott – the first American of Filipino descent to serve as a member of US Congress – was elected to an 11th term.
He handily defeated his Republican challenger, Dean Longo. Scott led with 82 percent of the votes, with Longo receiving 17%, according to the State Board of Elections.
Bonta, who got 50.79% of the votes, was elected the new representative for the 18th Assembly District, narrowly beating Abel Guillen, who got 49.21.
“It’s significant that there has never been a State Assembly member of Filipino American descent in the 160+ years of California’s history, especially with Filipino Americans now comprising the second largest Asian-American group in the state, and the fastest growing,” Bonta said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on election eve.
“I’m honored for this opportunity to finally break through that barrier and serve not just the Fil-Am community, but all of the diverse communities in our district.”
Bonta, 41, currently serves as Alameda vice mayor, Alameda County transportation commissioner and deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. He graduated with honors from Yale College with a degree in History.
After studying at Oxford University in England, he returned to obtain his Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.
It was one of the first statewide tests of California’s new open primary system, where the top two candidates move on to the general election, regardless of party.
As a result, Bonta and Guillen, both Democrats, ran in a tight race. The district, newly drawn after the 2010 census, includes San Leandro, Alameda and Oakland.
Those who won seats in Hawaii’s House of Representatives were Henry Aquino (38th district), Della Au Belatti (24th district), Rida Cabanilla-Arakawa (41st), Romy Cachola (30th district), Marissa Capelouto (42nd district), Ty Cullen (39th district), Gilbert S. Keith-Agaran (9thdistrict) and Chris Manabat (40thdistrict).
Those who clinched seats in the State Senate are Donovan Dela Cruz (22nd district), Will Espero (19th district) and Donna Mercado Kim (14th).
In Ohio, Republican Marisha Agana lost her bid to represent the newly drawn 13th congressional district. She garnered only 28%of the votes, compared to her Democratic opponent Tim Ryan’s 72%.
The other two Fil-Ams running for the State Assembly – Jennifer Ong and Chris Mateo, both Democrats – lost their election bids.
But Ong gave his opponent Bill Quirk a tough fight for the 20th district. Quirk won by a narrow margin, with 51.3 percent versus Ong’s 48.7%.
Mateo who eyed the 12th district got 38.6%, losing to Kristin Olsen, with 61.4%.
In Pennsylvania, William Sylianteng, who ran for the 151st legislative district conceded defeat to Todd Stephens.
The Montgomery County Board of Elections unofficial results showed Stephens claimed 59.63 percent of the votes compared to Sylianteng’s 40.37% “Friends, I just called Todd Stephens … to congratulate him,” Sylianteng wrote on his Facebook page.
“It was a hard fought race (and) I thank you all for your support.”
Filipinos for Obama
Obama’s Filipino American supporters attended victory celebrations after the president was re-elected for a second term.
“Voting for him today and having watched his victory speech with many believers of President Obama brought tears to my eyes,” said Melissa Ramoso, who joined a jubilant crowd of Democrats at the Dodgers Stadium.
“This victory was a win for our families, friends and our America.”
Ramoso cast her nomination vote for Obama as a Fil-Am delegate to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) earlier this year.
She also worked many hours campaigning for him in California and the battleground state of Nevada.
“I’m excited about this new chapter of American Politics many of us helped to create,” Gregory Cendana posted on Facebook as he joined thousands of supporters gathered outside the White House, waving signs and flags and chanting “Yes we can!” and “Four more years!” Cendana is executive director for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and also a Fil-Am delegate to the DNC. - Inquirer