Most Asian Americans elected to Chicago City Council, Illinois legislature in 2023

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Most Asian Americans elected to Chicago City Council, IL legislature
More Asian Americans have been elected to the Chicago City Council and Illinois state legislature in 2023 than ever before.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More Asian Americans, particularly women, have been elected to the Chicago City Council and Illinois state legislature, part of a new wave of Asian Americans serving in public office.

Chicago Alderman Nicole Lee is the first Chinese American to represent the city's 11th Ward, which is also the city's first ever Asian American majority ward. But her history in the city is deep; some of her relatives are on display in the Chinese American Museum of Chicago.

"We have the opportunity to gather around the things that unites us, the things that we want," Lee said. "We want safe neighborhoods, we want our kids to get a good education and have a more prosperous life than we did."

In the city's 48th Ward, encompassing Andersonville, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth will be the first Filipina in the city council.

"Far too often government has worked for a select, privileged few, and we can't keep doing the same thing over and over again if we want different outcomes," she said.

Both Lee and Manaa-Hoppenworth won in the municipal runoff election on April 4. Meanwhile in Springfield, the number of Asian Americans elected to the state legislature has more than doubled.

Thirteenth District Rep. Hoan Huynh is the first Vietnamese American in the legislature.

"We have to make sure that everyone has access to economic opportunity, that everyone has a fair shot in our state whether it's education opportunity, healthcare opportunity, or economic opportunity," he said.

State Rep. Theresa Mah was the first Asian American elected to the Illinois legislature in 2016. She is now in her fourth term and watching the rise in Asian American representation with pride.

"It really makes difference for all constituents and I'm really proud to be a part of all those wins," she said.

These elected officials said they hope to see the door open for people in public service so that more people can have a voice in what happens next.