Fil-Ams must learn civic engagement, says Filipina vying for Calif. State Assembly
SAN MATEO, California — Not a few guests at the launch of a Filipina American candidate for California State Assembly were caught by surprise and when asked on who their mayors, city council members and supervisors were.
These unexpected questions were raised by Republican candidate for District 22 of the California State Assembly Christina Rodriguez Laskowski as she launched her candidacy at Redwood City Women’s Club. She wanted the crowd to know how serious she was about government and winning the primary as well as the coming election.
“Part of what is going on is that we are not engaged, we have no idea who is in charge in the local level. There are all these things that are happening around us. the part of my agenda for call to action is really to locally engage and deliver change because change happens at the local level,” Laskowski asserted.
“In the community we should focus more on what are the causes and not what are the consequences. Like on the 2nd Amendment. Why should we focus on the guns and not on the problems that the persons have before they take up the guns? Almost all I have heard about have some problems at home and/or personal issues.”
Laskowski exhorted her audience to pay attention to what is going on, take action and make a difference.
“I think I am in a position to understand from different viewpoints based on my background, career path where I have worked with different people at different levels. I will invest my time and energy because I do care. I am committed to make positive change for good,” pledged Laskowski.
Among the notable guests supporting Laskowski’s candidacy were Cristina Osmeña, herself a candidate for the 14th congressional district of California for the U.S. House of Representatives, and Bataan Province 2nd district Representative Jose Enrique Garcia who, together with his wife was flying to Minnesota to attend an ethanol summit as a member of the (Philippine) House Committee on Energy.
“I’ve known Christina (Laskowski) long enough as we’ve worked together for several of our initiatives for the city of Balanga, to say that she will do very well (as a California Assemblymember). She worked with our team so well and I can just imagine the work and goodwill she will be putting in if she gets elected,” Garcia claims.
Born and raised the San Francisco Bay Area, Laskowski spent some years at Ateneo de Davao elementary and high school in the late 1970s during Martial Law before she went back to finish secondary school at Mercy High School in Burlingame. She then attended the University of San Francisco and graduated with a BS Business Administration and Finance.
Laskowski is a strategic advisor and senior consultant managing and supporting business transformation and technology investments. Hers may be a “startup” campaign, but she has around for a while helping Filipinos. Among her many active social activities and affiliations:
- President and board member, STAC Silicon Valley which designed a strategic plan to develop a tech focused entrepreneurial ecosystem which serves as the framework for the Philippines startup ecosystem today). MOA partner to DOST, DTI, DFA that in 2009 was eventually presented to then Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
- Executed MOA with US-Philippines Society to facilitate Silicon Valley immersion programs;
- Core team member and Program Manager of The Hinabi Project, a sustainability initiative of Philippine American Writers & Artists (PAWA), and
- Board Member, FYLPRO (Filipino Young Leaders & Professionals, founded by DFA Philippines).
She passionately believes there should be more Filipinos in the California State Assembly to join Assemblymember Rob Bonta.
“I took the invitation by Cristina Osmeña to consider a run for Assembly seriously,” Laskowski stated. “For me this role is an extension of how I can help a broader base of fellow Americans. applying the Filipino sense of community and care I am partly overwhelmed but at the same time excited at the opportunity to be able to help. If this is what it takes, I am happy to do it. I feel it might be a calling.”
Among the things that Laskowski wishes to achieve include educating her constituents and engaging them in local politics.
“Many people I talked with (a majority Filipino Americans) had no idea what the organizational structure of the California state government is. They are mostly familiar with the national structure. I would like this to change to help empower the voters at large with knowledge and participation,” Laskowski explained.
“Also, I would present collaborative and innovative ways to solve problems particularly on senior care and education by coming up with outreach activities to the community on issues.”
As a Republican candidate, Laskowski favors “fiscal responsibility” and “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness within the rule of law.”
On her chances of winning the assembly seat, Laskowski was philosophical saying it all depends on how winning is defined.
“I am in this to engage and empower members of the community. If between now and November, I can educate more people in and out of my district (in the Bay Area) on how they can make a difference locally and how they can help shape the future of their community through engagement (understanding what, why, how) and have their votes reflect this, then that is a win,” Laskowski explained.
The 22nd Assembly District of California covers most of the bayside of San Mateo County. It includes Pacifica and most of South San Francisco in the north and extends south to Redwood City.
According to Data USA, there were 47,333 San Mateo County native Tagalog speakers in 2015. The Filipino American Center of San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) noted 80,349 Filipinos living in San Mateo, the 6th most populated county in California according to the 2010 US Census.
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