Ethnic Voters Gear Up For November 2002 Elections
By Jackie Bong-Wright
Rock & Vote Concert
Linda Trang Dai, the well-known, 20-something Vietnamese singer, wearing an American flag and low-cut blue jeans, asked an excited audience of 500 Vietnamese gathered in the Fairfax County Government Center’s open auditorium, “Are you going to register to vote?” The response was a roar: “Yes.” She repeated, “Are going to vote on November 5th?” Another deafening “Yes” echoed back.
Linda and her husband, Tommy Ngo, the “new wave” rock singers, Cat Tien, another youthful rising star, and dancers, kept the crowd of eligible Vietnamese voters in a constantly cheerful mood. The occasion was a free “Rock & Vote Concert” held on September 29 from 1:00 to 5: 00 p.m. entitled “The Power of Our Vote is The Strength of Our Community.”
Nguyen Quoc Hung, the newly-elected President of the National Congress of Vietnamese-Americans, and Hoang Quoc Tuan, two young activists, spearheaded the movement. They enlisted the support of a dozen Vietnamese organizations in the Washington area, including the Vietnamese Boy & Girl Scouts of Virginia and several youth and students’ associations.
American volunteers from the Fairfax Registrar office were on hand to verify voters’ application forms. About 120 eligible Vietnamese Americans registered to vote that afternoon and two dozen more followed suit that week-end at the Vietnamese Eden Shopping Center in Falls Church, where volunteers from the Vietnamese American Voters’ Association (VAVA) solicited passers-by to register before the October 7 deadline.
The Rock & Vote Concert featured prominent speakers. Interspersed between songs and dances, short talks were delivered by Viet Dinh, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy; John Quoc Duong, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Nguyen Minh Chau, a fourth-term member of Garrett Park Town Council; Congressman Tom Davis, 11th District of Virginia; Kaying Yang, Director of South East Asian Resource Action Center; and Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D., Director of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others. They focused on how Vietnamese constituents could become involved in the U.S. democratic political process. They also zoomed in on the topic of empowerment of the Vietnamese community and showed how Vietnamese could become a strong voice at the local, state and national levels. They stressed that Vietnamese, as naturalized citizens, should be assertive and exercise their proper rights and duties.
Tran Quoc Si from Maryland and Hoang Quoc Tuan from Virginia borrowed voting machines from their respective counties and showed the attentive audience how to vote properly. Printed brochures on voting procedures in the District of Columbia were also distributed, and were explained to registered voters and their families.
The Rock & Vote concert was an experimental event held for the first time in the Washington area by Vietnamese Americans. It turned out to be a morale-booster and a great success, which the organizers vowed to repeat every year from now on.
Candidates’ Forum in Virginia
The Immigrant Ethnic Coalition (IEC), in collaboration with the Ethnic Coalition of Virginia (ECVA), the House of Iran, the League of Korean Americans (LOKA-USA), the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Vietnamese American Voters’ Association (VAVA) will present their 2002 Candidates’ Forum on October 24 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Mason District Government Center. Their goal is to educate ethnic constituents to better understand candidates’ positions on various issues related to immigrants and residents in general, and to make pertinent choices at the coming elections in November.
The IEC, a cross-cultural voice in the Washington Metropolitan area, is composed of diverse immigrant leaders interested in working together to involve newcomers in decision-making. Their mission is to make institutions, systems and the community-at-large more inclusive and responsive to all immigrants. This is the fourth time that member organizations from IEC and ECVA have teamed up with other organizations to hold the Candidates’ Forum. The format is for the 12 candidates for the Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates to tell the ethnic audience about their political platforms by introducing themselves, responding to questions posed by panelists, and making a final statement.
Race for the U.S. Senate
This year, three candidates are running for the one open seat at the U.S. Senate. They are John W. Warner (R ), Jacob G. Hornberger, Jr. (I), and Nancy B. Spannaus (I).
The incumbent, Senator Warner, elected to the Senate since 1978, has said that one of his top priorities has been to strengthen the nation’s security. He wants to improve pay, health care and housing for the military and their families. He also wants to help the economy by creating jobs in the shipyards of Hampton Roads and in defense-related manufacturing in Richmond. He wants to increase consumer confidence via tax relief. He introduced the “No Child Left Behind Act” to provide more flexibility in the use of federal education dollars and more accountability from the states and localities.
Sen. Warner advocates alternative modes of transportation, such as high-speed rail, mass transit, and car pooling to combat the congestion and pollution that threaten the Coomonwealth. In terms of health care, he proposes a refundable tax credit for those who purchase their own insurance, funds for states to expand health insurance coverage for low-income children, and increased funding for community health centers.
An opponent, Jacob Hornberger, 52, an independent candidate, lawyer, and Libertarian Party speaker at the 1996 and 1998 national conventions, builds his philosophy on civil liberty, with no government interference of any sort. He advocates abolishing the IRS by raising the standard of living through freedom of trade and freedom to accumulate wealth and capital without paying taxes. He wants every federal department and agency involved in the distribution of welfare, subsidies, old-age assistance, medical care, grants, and “charity” to be abolished, not reformed. He wants to end severe drug addiction measures by funding voluntary rehabilitation and therapy, not incarceration.
Hornberger thinks that people have a moral right to own weapons and bear arms, both for hunting and for protection against criminals, and he would end government gun control laws. He opposes subsidized abortions by the government. He wants to separate school and state through the repeal of compulsory attendance laws and school taxes and by ending all government involvement in education.
The last candidate for the senate is Nancy B. Spannaus, a Larouche Democrat. She calls on Virginians to embrace Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon Larouche’s emergency infrastructure program as the only possible solution to the national economic breakdown crisis, and the disastrous budget crisis facing the state. The program means more production in the areas of transportation and water. In the transportation, it would require the government to create a rail-line from Washington to Richmond. He says there is also a pressing need for water desalination plants in the Tidewater area.
Larouche’s economic measures include a New Bretton Woods system by restoring a fixed-exchange rate system, with capital, exchange, financial, and trade controls. He would drastically increase the rates of taxation on speculation and capital gains – substituting long-term investment tax credits to entrepreneurs. He would also carry out a general banking reorganization, generating large masses of government-created credit at interest rates between 1-2%, for a combination of desperately needed infrastructure investment and entrepreneurial investment production.
House of Representatives in the 8th, 10th, and 11th Districts
Here seven candidates are running in three districts. In the 8th district, incumbent Jim Moran, a democrat elected to the House since 1991, has a long activist record. He strongly supports the use of mass transit. He introduced the Driver’s License Modernization Act, which requires uniform standards for drivers’ licenses, and sponsored the Cyber Security Act to link the private sector and the government to share information protecting them against threats to their infrastructure.
Moran played a lead role in getting Ronald Reagan Airport reopened after the terrorist attacks. He introduced a “trigger” plan amendment to suspend any new tax cuts until a five-year plan is in place to balance the federal budget without taking money from the Social Security Trust Fund. On education, Moran supports more funding for school construction, renovation, English as a Second Language, and special education programs.
Scott C. Tate, Jr., a Republican active in civic, business and political groups, has critized Moran on the domestic front, attacking him as a “regulation-loving, tax-and-spend Democrat who would choke-off our economic recovery in its infancy.” He says that he would aggressively promote the telecommuting option for federal workers and make available e-government services in a user-friendly manner to the average American. He would also invest considerable effort in immigration reform, consistent with establishing safe and secure borders in the wake of September 11th. He has denounced Moran for admitting that he accepted campaign contributions from individuals and groups with ties to suspected terrorist organizations, including Abdurahman Alamoudi and the Safa Trust.
The third candidate is libertarian Ronald V. Crickenberger, an independent. His logo is “Not left or right, but forward.” He believes that America’s heritage is built on individual liberty and personal responsibility. He favors 10% yearly reductions in income tax until it and the IRS are eliminated, and an end to corporate welfare and needless regulations. He would work to repeal the “national ID” legislation and government interference with health care choices. He has said, “We should show the world the blessing of the free market with free trade for all, but military welfare for none.”
In the 10th district, John B. Stevens, Jr., a Democrat, is running as a Community Congressman. He advocates the Patients Bill of Rights to ensure that HMOs can’t deny care in time of need. He would work for insurance industry reform to make comprehensive health care affordable for all working families. On the economy, he wants substantial reforms in both the accounting industry and the boardroom. He wants to instill Smart Growth by building new homes and businesses around existing infrastructure and by sustaining fiscal responsibility. He proposes public school choice programs that let all parents decide what environment is best for their children. Finally, he calls for an end to racial profiling in law enforcement and national security efforts.
The second candidate is incumbent Republican Frank R. Wolf, who has represented the district since 1980. He has worked to improve human rights and basic living conditions for refugees in many parts of the world. He has voted to provide emergency funding for overseas military operations and heightened homeland security measures. He authored legislation creating the National Commission on Terrorism. On education, he supports refundable tax credits of up to $1,000 for parents for educational purposes, and increased funding for the maximum tax-free contribution allowable per year for an education IRA. He has also fought hard to reduce income taxes and eliminate the “marriage penalty” and death tax. Wolf was instrumental in the creation of the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to oversee the trucking industry. Finally, he worked to obtain full funding for the 103-mile metro-rail system leading to Tysons Corner and the Dulles corridor.
In the 11th district, incumbent Republican Tom M. Davis III, congressman since 1994, secured funding for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Replacement and for mass transit to ease gridlock in Northern Virginia. He supports legislation to improve student achievement and expand student loans and tax breaks for college tuition payments. He created the “Social Security Lock Box,” ensuring that all budget decisions safeguard these funds. In 1998, he was elected Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. In that capacity, he helped elect Republicans across the country and worked to build the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
His opponent, Frank W. Creel, is running on the Constitution Party ticket. He believes that America is long past due to move from the “Me Generation” to the “We Generation,” including children and grandchildren. Creel has said that Davis should adopt sensible solutions to Northern Virginia’s long-term transportation problems without raising taxes. Creel felt shortchanged that Davis had turned over a portion of the tax dollars to the IRS. He thought that Davis should improve education by true choice instead of supporting what he called a budget-busting handout to the education establishment. He also questioned Davis on increasing the number of foreign workers competing for jobs in the area by raising the ceiling for H-1B visas.
Finally, the two last candidates for the Virginia Senate, 39th district, are Rosemary M. Lynch, a Democrat, and J.K. “Jay” O’Brien, Jr., a Republican. Lynch, a working mother of two grown children and a breast cancer survivor, will fight for managed growth to preserve quality of life. She wants to build and renew schools, reduce class sizes and raise teacher salaries, and protect children by keeping schools and communities safe.
Republican Jay O’Brien, a member of the Virginia’s House of Delegates for the past eleven years, has amassed a long record of 24 bills and 14 resolutions. In 2002 for instance, he has passed these bills: requiring Proof of Identity to receive a Virginia Drivers License after the September Terrorist Attacks (HB 638); revisions in State Election Law Following the Presidential Election (HB 640); Income Tax Exemptions for Donation to the VA War Memorial and the D-Day Memorial (HB 645); create Penalties for Aggressive Driving (HB 1342).