New NY state solon Steven Raga vows to ‘keep my nose clean’
NEW YORK – Steven Raga took his oath as New York State Assemblymember on Jan. 15 before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Prominent community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis held the Bible on which Raga “solemnly swore” to support the constitutions of the United States and the State of New York and to “faithfully discharge” his duties.
Hundreds of Raga’s Filipino and Asian supporters erupted in applause, breaking the silence throughout the sepulchral corridors of the Queens Museum.
Raga is no longer a student activist or community organizer. He has just become a politician. He is now a member of the state government, and through his newly acquired mandate he can make things happen by way of legislation.
With trepidation, Raga acknowledged his new role and vowed not to follow the path of traditional politics by “always telling the truth” and “keeping my nose clean.”
“Make sure there’s no scandal,” he said in the debut episode of the Women & Media (WAM) podcast hosted by Marivir Montebon and this writer.
“I don’t want Wikipedia to say ‘first Filipino, then scandal, scandal, scandal.’ When I hear ‘politician,’ it invokes a very negative reaction. I am in a position as an elective official. You can call me politician, but I’ve seen community leaders who are more politician than the elective officials. As an elective official you hold the public trust, you advocate for those who are your neighbors, small businesses and organizations around you who are doing good work but are being kept out of the most important discussions across the city and state.”
The first-ever Filipino American elected to any state-level position in New York, Raga’s victory is seen as “historic,” says the Philippine Consulate General in New York in a statement. “It is a validation of the resounding political voice of the Fil-Am community in particular, and the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community, in general.
Raga told WAM he has been assigned to five State Assembly committees – Banks, Social Services, Government Operations, Veterans and Agriculture. He shared how jobs and housing are important to his district, and that he would work to address such concerns. District 30 encompasses the neighborhoods of Woodside, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village, Jackson Heights, and Astoria, not just working-class immigrants, he said, but also long-time residents who have made their homes and fortunes here.
“With Steven in office, the welfare and interests of Filipino Americans and the AAPI will be pushed to the forefront,” said the consulate in a statement. © The FilAm 2023