Asian American candidates aim to break state records -- and 'the bamboo ceiling'

  • Asian American candidates and officials pose at an Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association brunch in Springfield in August. Seated in front row, from left, are Appellate Court candidate Sonni Choi Williams of Lockport; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita, who is running for a Cook County Board seat; U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates; state Rep. Theresa Mah of Chicago, and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg. Standing from left are: Illinois House candidate Hoan Huynh of Chicago, Illinois House candidate Kevin Olickal of Skokie, state Rep. Sharon Chung of Bloomington; state Sen. Ram Villivalam of Chicago; Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, Illinois House candidate Nabeela Syed of Palatine, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou, who is not running for elective office, and Chicago Alderman Nicole Lee.

    Asian American candidates and officials pose at an Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association brunch in Springfield in August. Seated in front row, from left, are Appellate Court candidate Sonni Choi Williams of Lockport; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita, who is running for a Cook County Board seat; U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates; state Rep. Theresa Mah of Chicago, and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg. Standing from left are: Illinois House candidate Hoan Huynh of Chicago, Illinois House candidate Kevin Olickal of Skokie, state Rep. Sharon Chung of Bloomington; state Sen. Ram Villivalam of Chicago; Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, Illinois House candidate Nabeela Syed of Palatine, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou, who is not running for elective office, and Chicago Alderman Nicole Lee. Photo by Lee Milner

 
 
Updated 9/13/2022 8:38 PM

It took 174 years for Chicagoans to elect the first Asian American to sit in the city council -- and nearly two centuries for Illinois voters to send the first member of the community to Congress.

Today, at least 10 Asian Americans hold elective offices across the state -- two representing Illinois in the nation's capital. And voters will get a chance to dramatically increase those previously slow-growing numbers in elections this year and the next.

 

It's part of a nationwide trend already unfolding in Virginia, Michigan and Indiana -- and reflective of a 2020 Pew Research Center study finding that Asian Americans are becoming the fastest-growing segment of eligible voters out of the major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

• For the full story, visit chicago.suntimes.com.

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