Translated by SoYeon Lee
If there was Boston’s first Korean City Councilman, would it be possible for the Chinese Tackey Chan to get elected as Massachusetts’ first Asian State Representative candidate? Last September, Chinese Lawyer Tackey Chan was elected as 2nd Norfolk District State Representative in the primaries against the candidate Keegan. Chan will be competing against a Republican candidate, John Iredale and an Independent candidate, Carl Lose on November 2nd.
Last Monday around 11 am at a restaurant on Hancock Street, I met up with Tackey Chan who only has 37 days until the general election. Quincy native born, Lawyer Tackey Chan was on the phone while he was walking up to meet me and the phone conversation went on for awhile even after his arrival.
Our meeting place wasn’t open so we decided to walk up to a close café. Even on our way to the café, he continued to stay on the phone. When I asked him how many phone calls he gets a day he said “it’s countless. It because all the phone calls regarding the election have to go through me or my campaign manager.” It wasn’t hard to figure out how busy his daily schedule was. Currently, except his work (Quincy Board of zoing Appeals), Chan is spending all of his time on the election campaign.
In his overcoat, candidate Tackey Chan looked much younger than the picture. At age 36, he is still single. Candidate Chan seemed very confident after beating candidate Keegan at the primaries in last September. Tackey Chan appeared to be a fast talker and of course that continued throughout the interview. The interview was conducted in a very fast tempo.
Born under Hong Kong immigrant parents, Tackey Chan graduated from New England Law School and until early this year, he worked as DA at the Office of the Secretary of Justice looking over the increasing rate of electricity and gas; also the consumer related issues. Prior to this job, he also worked as General Counsel and Legislative Director for State Senator Michael W. Morrissey. He is also involved with local community; working with the Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. After losing his father back in 1989, he is living his widowed mother.
What motivated you to run for the office?
I always have wished to become a politician at some time. I am a long time worker for the public service and the local community. I got the opportunity to run for a higher position and when I looked back at my life and my financial situation, I thought the timing was right for me to try.
Why did you want to become a politician?When you can have a nice and stable job?
I want to be helpful to others. I have been working for the public service and the local community and instead of working for the law firm, private practice law firm because I don’t mind being whole lot less to do whole lot more. I thought that was very important. This was other opportunity to run for the office to do something for the public.
In the primary, you won against Jeff Keegan by only 112 votes. How was the primary?
I had a good race with Mr. Keegan. We both worked really hard for our campaign. Keegan has run for the office twice before and he is well recognized candidate with very well-formed network. On the other hand, I started from the scratch. We both had very hard summer. (Even with small vote difference) obviously winning is still winning. I think it demonstrated that even though I still with basically nothing I was still able to work hard and pull it off at the end with the win.
What is your main strategy for your campaign? What do you usually do during the daytime?
There are a lot of things to organize. I have to keep track of emails that people send. Email offers a lot of help for the campaign. I also have to hand out bumper stickers and raise money. I have to meet with different organizations to gather their support. I go door to door to meet with people personally as well.
Your opponent John Iredale has raised $150,000, how much money have you raised?
It’s good that John has told you how much money he has. I am not going to dispose how much money I have but I have to raise some more.
What is hard about raising the fund?
It’s tough economy right now. But I have raised a lot of money. I have raised $37,000 before the primary. I am very thankful for generosityof those that have donated money even in a tough economy. It would help if others go to my website and make a donation as well. It makes a lot of difference every time people make a donation.
We have Asian and American candidates in this election; do you think the situation is helpful to you?
I don’t think it helps or hurts me. I perceive myself as a kid that grew up in Quincy and I happen to be Asian. That’s only difference.
I was in a (Chinese) community that was somewhat underrepresented because they don’t have someone who looks like them in the community; and obviously I have a better understanding of immigration, living in a single-family household, and working as a teenager like a lot of other people in this community. I was the first one to go to college. So I had to figure that all out myself to go to law school. I don’t think myself as advantage or disadvantage. I think people can look pass how I look.
I had to go to school, keep a job, commute, and take care of my mom; so my day started early and finished at 10 everyday. But I’m not the only person. I’m sure there are many people with same stories.
Why do you think you are a better candidate than John Iredale?
I’m the person with legal experience. I was always the one to represent the little guy. I always represented neighborhood in my area. I always work for the non-profit agencies. In 2001, I have built Asian Resource Inc. from scratch. After 9/11, the economy just panicked and it was very challenging time but it has become a firm non-profit organization. Quincy Asian Resource Inc. is dedicated to social, economic, and cultural benefits for Asian-Americans. It help them to cross into the main street community.
How do you think about the Asian voters?
10% of Quincy population is Asian but they don’t participate in voting. One of the reasons is the voting registration. It is very easy to register to vote. Anyone American citizen over 18 can register. The problem is that they don’t know where the voting takes place. Because they don’t know English, they are not familiar with the voting process. Voting places can be different for each state, city, and town. When you vote in Quincy, you have to underline while you circle the name in Boston. For these reasons, it is difficult for them to vote. But even if you turn in a blank paper, it is important to vote.
Tackey Chan emphasized that even though he is Asian he is not the representative of only the Asian population. But he showed his concern for the Asian voters. Because Politicians can see who votes, low number of Asian votes makes many politicians to turn their backs on the Asian population.
After the interview, candidate Chan walked away with his pamphlets and bumper stickers in his hands for the door to door visits.