Fil-Ams tapped for Nevada county Asian Pacific American commission

Clark County’s Asian-American Pacific Islanders Community Commission is comprised of Sharifa Wahab, Fayyaz Raja, Craig Valdez, Sonny Vinuya, Rica Tamura, Divya Narala, Arlene Anita Markthepharack, Margie Gonzales, Tuan Pham, Allen Mallari, Vida Chan Lin, Daniel Lee, Jeannie Kim, Arun Gupta and Dorinda Burnet. AJPress/Robert Macabagdal

LAS VEGAS — Four Filipino Americans have been appointed to the reestablished Clark County Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Community Commission.

Fil-Am community leader Margie Gonzales will serve as chairwoman of the 15-person commission, which also includes Fil-Ams Allen Mallari, a pastor; Craig Valdez, regional program manager for New American Leaders; and Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce President Sonny Vinuya.

Other members represent leaders, business owners, and students across AAPI backgrounds and ages.

The commission had its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, October 9 at the Clark County Government Center during which members were sworn in and the duties of the commission were laid out.

Gonzales said the commission will work to identify the AAPI communities within the county, the population of each one, and their respective socio-economic needs.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerbloom recognized that the AAPI community — considered the fastest-growing demographic in Southern Nevada — continues to be an economic driver for the county.

The county previously had a similar commission in 1995, which had been established by the late Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom through AB 525 in the Legislature. However, it only lasted for a year.

“The Asian-American Pacific Islander community is large and diverse and it’s important that we identify and address its needs,” said Segerblom. ”I look forward to watching the panel go about its work and receiving a report of its recommendations.”

Segerblom advocated for the revival of the commission based on the recommendations of a group of community leaders, including Rozita Lee, who was on the 1995 commission.

Census data from 2017 indicates there are currently 251,853 Asians and 31,546 Pacific Islanders in Clark County.

Filipinos make up the largest AAPI group in the state, with around 86,000 in the county alone — though that number is projected to have increased since the last Census.

The commission is also tasked with the creation of an AAPI cultural center within the county, which is proposed to be a centralized hub for resources and services for the community.

The meeting on Wednesday did not disclose any further information on the timeline or the site of the center.

“With your hard work, compassion and commitment, our community will be stronger and I am proud to be one of you,” Nevada first lady Kathy Sisolak, who was present on Wednesday, told the commissioners.

The commission is also authorized to accept donations that will be put toward the research of identifying the community and the relevant organizations.

The 15 members of the commission will serve until June 30, 2021, and will meet once a month.