May 3, 2016

We Matter, We Fight, We Vote

By Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons
Executive Director

We face one of the most intense and consequential elections in 2016, where your vote will make a difference. We know that communities that vote experience better health, education and economic opportunity. Yet 50% of our community is not registered, we have gaps in issue education, and we can do better to ensure our votes are cast by November 8th.

APANO’s civic engagement work is about speaking out and fighting for what is best for our families. APANO organizes in our communities to elevate issues affecting Oregon’s 250,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders and coordinates grassroots voter registration, education and get out the vote campaigns. Together, these ensure we have a powerful role in major policy decisions and educating public officials.

Asian and Pacific Islander communities have doubled over the last 20 years, and continue to grow as Oregon’s second largest racial/ethnic community. Despite progress for some of us, too many in our communities experience inequities, and all of us are affected by the ugly surge in anti-immigrant and racist comments from electeds that target communities of color. The successful, multiracial movements for racial justice, with Black Lives Matter, the Oregon Racial Equity Report and campaigns for LGBTQ rights have provoked a sense from some quarters that we are “under attack.” University of Oregon Professor Dan Ho Sang suggests, “together, these events have provoked a kind of white American nationalism and political retrenchment...that we face some sort of vulnerability.” At stake for us is countering these damaging and divisive attitudes and offering a social justice vision for Oregon voters who will decide major issues through ballot measures and electing officials who will shape our city councils and state legislature.

In this environment, APANO’s civic engagement is focused on the 2016 elections, and building alliances within our diverse communities to advance a progressive, social justice vision grounded in our values. One key value to lift up is our recognition that the health, well-being and survival of our communities and the natural world are understood as more important than individual profit, and supported through equitable distribution of wealth and resources. We are tracking a number of anti-immigrant, anti-choice and anti-worker ballot measures that we believe are deeply flawed and wrong for Oregon. We’re also studying a range of public revenue issues that could make positive game changing investments in our schools, access to healthcare and economy.

Over the next 6 months APANO will be working with members and partners to research and prioritize the election issues we’ll focus on. We plan to build out our statewide work by:

  • Registering 6,000 Voters
  • Distributing 50,000 Voter Guides in 6 languages
  • Facilitating candidate roundtables and sharing responses to APANO questions
  • Hosting 20 Ballot Parties
  • Phonebanking 20,000 Voters
  • Working with partners in Eugene, Salem, Beaverton and Portland to Get Out The Vote

We ask APANO members and supporters to take action with us, to dedicate time to volunteer three times between now and the General Election Day on November 8th. We are committed to creating a meaningful experience for you as we work hard to make direct contact with Asian and Pacific Islander voters and communities to ensure we are fully engaged by election day. APANO leaders and staff will be reaching out to you to ask you if you would help. Every contribution matters, however modest, and I hope you will reflect and create space to work with APANO in 2016. Kathy Wai is our Civic Engagement Manager, and Yian Saechao is our Civic Engagement Associate, and I encourage you to connect with them if you’re inspired to get involved now - and

Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons
Executive Director

May is nationally recognized as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To celebrate, we will be bringing you content around the theme of Building Power. To follow along, you can view all our posts compiled on this page, as well as follow the hastag #APIsBuildingPower on social media