CALIFORNIA, USA – The 4 Filipino Americans who signed on as plaintiffs in the landmark case against the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors 4 years ago are mounting a new campaign to empower Filipinos in the area.
"After years of struggle, our community finally has the opportunity to determine our own future and make history," Ray Satorre, Bradley Roxas, Joe Otayde and Mario Panoringan said in a manifesto issued September 6 to Rappler.
All plaintiffs in CIV 504866 against San Mateo County Board of Supervisors are building on the victory they won when San Mateo eventually joined the other 57 counties in California that will elect board representatives by district.
Otayde until recently was an elected member of the Jefferson Elementary School Board while Satorre is an appointed member of the Daly City Planning Commission. Roxas was a member of the Daly City Library Commission. Now retired Panoringan waged a strong but unsuccessful challenge against the political establishment for a seat on the Daly City Council in the early 1990s.
All of them are prominent supporters of political candidacies, and some of them were known to be adversaries of the candidate they now stand solidly behind.
"As the leaders of the struggle to gain the opportunity for self-determination for our community we enthusiastically endorse and support Mike Guingona for San Mateo County Supervisor," the leaders declared in the statement.
"We can only attain empowerment if FilAms will be united and harmoniously reconciled," Satorre explained his change of heart to author. "Other people will always divide and rule Filipinos (for their own agenda). Do we want to progress politically or do we want to be puppets?"
San Mateo County, home of Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, San Bruno, and Belmont – towns that have sitting elected Filipino American officials – is represented by 5 supervisors for all 5 districts. Filipino- concentrated Daly City, Colma and Brisbane are in District 5. District 5 is currently held by Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who will end her term according to law in November 2016.
November 2016 will be the first time San Mateo County voters will vote only for their district representative. Previously, all county residents registered to vote elected supervisors in all districts.
The shift will occur thanks to the courage of a group of people who believed that the old system excluded Filipinos and Latinos from political engagement. The bold act flies in the face of political patronage, where bucking the establishment is tantamount to political suicide for anyone nurturing political ambition.
Why no sitting official's name was on the list of plaintiffs in that lawsuit therefore is no surprise.
The centerpiece lawsuit filed in 2011 compelled the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to place Measure B on the November 2012 ballot to establish district elections for county supervisors.
Over half or 59 percent of all voters agreed that time had come for districts to choose their representatives. Proponents of the change see the development as the tide turning for political aspirants of color.
"Changing to district elections is both a local civil rights milestone and an opportunity for our community to make our voice heard loudly in the political process," said the former plaintiffs as they proceed with their new objective.
"Prior to district elections, candidates running for county office were really elected by other communities like Burlingame, Redwood City and Menlo Park that do not reflect our community demographics," they emphasized. "Despite a population that is nearly 60 percent Asian Pacific Islander, Daly City has never been represented by an API County Supervisor."
They asserted that Daly City Council member Mike Guingona is the ideal representative for District 5 in 2016.
Guingona already made history by becoming the first Filipino American to be elected to the Daly City Council, where he has served 5 times as Mayor. The criminal justice attorney is also the seniormost elected official in the district.
His supporters say his experience in governance places him head and shoulders above any challenger.
"He served on the San Mateo County Transportation District (SamTrans) from 1996 to 2007, addressing our transportation needs. He now serves on the Bay Area Water Service and Conservation Agency addressing the drought and water conservation issues. Professionally, Guingona works as an attorney maintaining his own law practice in his hometown of Daly City," they noted.
Outside of work, Guingona teaches part-time as a wrestling coach at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, where his son Kai is a junior. He is married to the former Jackie Castillejo, who was a championship-class tennis player and theater actor-director in Manila.
Guingona also serves as a 2nd Lieutenant in the California State Military Reserve, where he works to support the emergency response mission of the California Guard.
"In short, Mike Guingona is a dedicated, experienced and passionate community activist and public servant,"his cohorts concluded.
Roxas, Satorre, Otayde, and Panoringan know full well they need to convince Filipinos to vote alongside them. While Guingona is the only FilAm candidate in the race, he is not the only candidate getting Filipino support. That is why his advocates are challenging the community to unite behind him.
"The election is in June of 2016 but the campaign has already begun," they reminded."For the very first time, our community is now able to determine who will represent us on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and that is why we are supporting Daly City Councilman Mike Guingona for Supervisor. We ask that you join us: Let our community’s voice be heard." – Rappler.com