Asian American groups host Chicago mayoral forum with 8 candidates; Lori Lightfoot not attending

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Asian American groups host mayoral forum
It's the first time the candidates for Chicago mayor are hearing directly from Asian American voters about issues such as public safety, affordable housing and education.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Asian American population in Chicago is up 29% since 2010. And community members want to make sure the people who want to be the next mayor of Chicago earn their vote.

"We really want to elevate the issues of Asian Americans and make it clear that our community is incredibly diverse," said Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago Executive Director Grace Pai. "We are not a single issue community."

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice, along with the Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment Coalition, are hosting a mayoral forum Monday evening featuring all the candidates except Mayor Lightfoot, who declined their invitation due to another obligation.

It's the first time the candidates are hearing directly from Asian American voters about issues such as public safety, affordable housing and education.

"A lot of people are just worried for themselves, for their family members, especially older members of the community who we've seen be targeted in kind of incidents of street violence," Pai said.

Vietnamese Association of Illinois Executive Director Van Huynh said some seniors are being priced out of their long-time neighborhoods.

"Affordable housing is such an important issue across Chicago, particularly in the Uptown area," Huynh said. "We are hearing from seniors who are having a hard time finding affordable housing."

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Pai said another key concern is language access when it comes to city services.

"A lot of services are inaccessible to Asian Americans because they can't talk to anyone in their own language," Pai said. "They can't understand some of the flyers or the announcements being put out."

Huynh said all candidates should have campaign materials targeting Asian American voters who aren't fluent in English.

"They could do a lot better in providing information in language," Huynh said. "I often think there is no way to reach out to the Asian American community unless you do it in their language."

That's why Monday night's forum is being simultaneously interpreted into seven Asian languages for audience members.