Ire at No-Show Candidates in Mayoral Forum for Asians

Not even John Liu, the only Asian running for mayor, emerged unscathed after showing up half an hour late. (Photo by Edward Charrette via The FilAm)

Around 50 Asian-American groups had high hopes for “Growing Numbers, Growing Impact: Mayoral Candidates Forum on Asian Pacific Americans,” but out of the seven mayoral hopefuls who confirmed attendance, only four actually showed up – including an half-hour-late John Liu.

In addition to Liu, Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, and Erick Salgado attended the May 20 forum, but Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson notified that morning to say they had another engagement, while John Catsimatidis gave no reason for his absence.

The FilAm reported on the upset reactions of representatives from across the diverse Asian groups.

“Many groups/organizations from the Asian Pacific American community put a great deal of effort into organizing an informative event for the community members to hear from various mayoral candidates of their plans on how they will improve New York City,” said Linda Lee, executive director of the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc. “However, last night, our community members were robbed of the opportunity to have their voices and concerns heard.”

Likewise disappointed with the dismal turnout was Luna Ranjit, executive director of Adhikaar.

“We are disappointed that many of the candidates who confirmed did not show up,” she said. “If our Nepali-speaking members can take time out after a long day of work, why can’t the front runner candidates make it a priority to come talk to them and ask for their votes?”

Filipino-American community organizer Ryan Natividad voiced his complaints by candidate.

“Too bad, John Catsimatidis didn’t show up,” he said. “He would’ve been the only Republican candidate to show up in a non-partisan event, and I would’ve respected him for that. As it stands, he’s a typical, craven Republican, doing only what suits him or is advantageous on his terms.”

As for Quinn, he said “she has a habit of ignoring communities.”

Although Liu was present, Natividad thought he appeared cocky by being tardy and not following protocol. “He’s so full of himself that he’s already taking the APA community for granted,” he said.

Other community organizers faulted the no-show candidates for disregarding a major segment of the city, one that’s “under-recognized.”

The lack of attendance by these candidates “says a lot of their lack of commitment to the Asian Pacific American community,” said Nyasha Griffith, deputy director of the Arab-American Family Support Center. “This is particularly disappointing in light of the fact that our community is typically undeserved and under-recognized.”

The Asian Pacific American population is the fastest growing over the last 10 years, and that “our votes and voices need to be taken seriously,” said Lee. The community makes up nearly 14 percent of the population with 1.3 million New Yorkers throughout all five boroughs. “Anyone who ignores this population does it at his or her own peril,” said Joyce Moy, executive director of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute at City University of New York.

How did the audience take it? According to Lois Lee, director of the Chinese-American Planning Council:

“I heard many audience members say that they will not vote for anyone who will not prioritize our needs.”

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