Fil-Am leaders urge aspirants to learn from election results
SAN MATEO, Calif. - Close, but keep the Champagne in the chiller.
Filipino Americans in what looms as battleground county next year had sought to set the stage for celebration after the Nov. 3 local elections. Their hopes turned to disappointment when results showed key candidates unsuccessful in their bids.
In a countywide race, Anthony "Fel" Amistad placed fourth of seven bets for the governing board of the San Mateo County community college district. The businessman and college professor collected 20,057 or 11.21 percent of total votes.
The San Mateo resident trailed some 13,000 votes behind his closest foe and led by over 7,000 ahead of the fifth placer. Topnotcher Dave Manderkern, an incumbent, got 48, 684 votes or 26.87 percent of the tally.
The district in contention governs College of San Mateo, Canada College and Skyline College with an enrollment of 40,000. As of 2012, Filipinos accounted for 9.6 percent of the student population, coming third after "Asians" — some Filipinos check off Asian as their ethnicity — Hispanics at 22 percent and Caucasians at 28.3 percent, per district statistics.
The three winners make the five-member governing board all Caucasian.
Meanwhile Daly City small-business owner Renato Beltran took 2,015 or 42.12 percent of votes in the contest for the short-term governing board of Jefferson Elementary School District. The two-way race went to Clayton Koo, who received 2,782 or 57.88 percent. Koo, identified as a "community outreach professional" on the ballot, was endorsed by the powerful San Mateo Labor Council. ?
While not thrilled by the outcome, Filipino American Democratic Club president Dory Panieza applauded the numbers garnered by the candidates.
"Other elected officials have won by less than a thousand votes," Panieza said as she noted the five-digit sum that went to Amistad. "Perhaps our candidates who want to serve in the public sector can consider relocating where victory comes easier."
Beltran lost by a few hundred. In his case, leaders had hoped a FilAm would retain the seat vacated by Joseph Otayde, who resigned after moving out of the area. Otayde had won the seat uncontested and later was re-elected.
JESD covers all the primary and intermediate schools in Daly City and neighboring Colma.
That governing board boasts of diversity, having an African American, a Latina, a Caucasian and a Pacific Islander. Though based in a city where Filipino Americans predominate, the board now has no FilAm representative.
"We need to develop leaders who understand the process," Perla Ibarrientos, elected delegate to the Northern California Democratic Party District 19, offered a debrief. As delegate, Ibarrientos votes for the party's officers and endorsees.
"Political aspirants should reach out to the community, be visible, attend meetings, speak up - do their homework and strengthen their track record," she said.
Those who truly wish to serve may start by applying for appointed seats on local, county or state commissions. Most commissions are voluntary and some may come with stipends.
"Commissions are ideal for learning about governance and appointed commissioners can serve just as productively as elected officials," said Erlinda Galeon, president of the Daly City Public Libraries Commission and corresponding secretary of the Friends of the Filipino Community, a political action committee, as fundraisers for political entities and endeavors are known. "We work for love of the community."
Galeon said candidates should be cautious about putting their names on the ballot because mounting multiple failed campaigns does not help "empowerment."
"Voters may be discouraged from supporting a candidate who may seem unelectable," she said. "Aspirants should be thoughtful about each campaign because their loss record could cost their election."
The Nov. 3 polls were significant in paving the way for November 2016, when San Mateo County will elect a new Supervisor for District 5. District 5 covers Daly City, Brisbane, Colma and parts of South San Francisco and San Bruno — all heavily populated by FilAms.
The results of the recent races could presage the fight for District 5, which is contested by five elected members of council members including two from Daly City, most notably Mike Guingona, the first Filipino American elected in the history of Daly City. —Philippine News