Calls for more women voices in gov’t
GLENDALE, Calif. — Rachel Pastor Sumagaysay Arizmendi, a Filipino-American councilwoman for the City of Sierra Madre, came out to support the candidacy of fellow Fil-Am Edith Fuentes, who has officially kicked off her campaign for a seat at the Glendale City Council on Thursday, Oct. 2.
Arizmendi told Asian Journal that it is exciting to see a fellow Asian female public servant run for public office, and that a Fuentes win would be a positive thing, not only for the Filipino community, but for people of color and women as a whole.
Arizmendi laments that there is a small support base for women who want to go into public office, and stressed the need for a “pipeline of leadership for young women.”While there is great effort towards engaging men in public service, women have not had that same amount of support, most especially women of color.
“So it’s exciting to see someone like Edith to be able to put her hat in the race and be able to move again. So I’m excited and that’s why I wanted to support her,” Arizmendi said to Asian Journal.
Arizmendi, who made history by being the first non-Caucasian and first Filipino-American councilperson to be elected in Sierra Madre, hopes that Fuentes would win in Glendale’s April 2015 elections and make her own mark in the city.
According to Fuentes, in the 108 years that the city has been established, there has never been an Asian woman elected into the Glendale City Council.
“It’s time to change that,” Fuentes said during the kick-off event.
Fuentes, who served as a zoning administrator in Glendale for 20 years, said that she plans to be even more involved “in anything and everything that’s happening in our city.”
“I want to make sure people are also guaranteed that they will have a voice in city hall,” Fuentes said. She added that she also wants to make sure that she is part of the solution for the problems and issues facing the city.
At the kick-off of her campaign, Fuentes encouraged eligible Glendale voters to come out and cast their votes in April 2015. She said that registered voters can opt to turn in their ballots in-person at precincts or mail in their absentee ballots. For those not registered yet, Fuentes said that they will be holding outreach events to get those people signed up for the elections.
“We want them to be part of the democratic system,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes, who failed in her first bid for public office in 2013, is trying to get more people to come out and vote. The number of eligible Filipino-American voters in Glendale is estimated to be around 4,000 people. In 2013, only around 400 Fil-Ams cast their voters in the polls.
This time, Fuentes wants to make sure she finishes strong. However, in order to do that, Fuentes needs the help of supporters through fundraising. According to Fuentes, she and her campaign team have set their fundraising goal at $50,000 by the end of 2014. The funds, she said, will be spent on professional campaign staffing, promotional material, and other campaign expenses.
“With $50,000, we think that’s comfortable enough to reach as many voters as we can, and to be able to get more endorsements and more people involved in the campaign,” she said.
Supporters can mail in their checks and contributions to her campaign team, Fuentes said.
Campaign manager Robert Urteaga said that their key message throughout the campaign is the importance of Fuentes’ experience and education in city hall work.
“She comes from within the city. She was a city employee for 20 years. She’s going to use that knowledge towards economic development, increase revenue without raising taxes, and expand city services that were taken away in the fiscal issues that Glendale has had in the past three to four years. On top of that, she wants to expand public safety,” Urteaga said.
Menard Leelin, a prominent Filipino-American entrepreneur and community leader in Cerritos, also announced his endorsement of Fuentes. Leelin recounted how the Filipinos in Cerritos rallied together and made history by being able to elect Mark Pulido into the Cerritos City Council. He said that if Filipinos in Glendale came together to emulate their Cerritos compatriots, it would be possible that we may soon see the first Filipina in the Glendale City Council.
(LA Midweek October 8-10, 2014 Sec. A pg.1)