December 17, 2012

Benny Lee to Become First Asian American on San Leandro City Council

Benny Lee in August 2012
Benny Lee
Along with Ursula Reed and Jim Prola, Benny Lee will be sworn-in as the District 4 Councilmember at tonight's San Leandro City Council meeting. When he officially takes office in 2013, he will become the first Asian American elected to the San Leandro City Council. (In 2008, Hermy Almonte was the first Asian American to run for City Council when he unsuccessfully ran for the District 6 seat.)

While Almonte and Lee were the first to run campaigns for council seats, Library-Historical Commissioner Arnold Mew was the first Asian American to seek appointment to a City Council seat in 1998. Mew was eliminated when the first City Council vote resulted in a tie between Melody Marr and Surlene Grant (who became the first African American on the San Leandro City Council after Young changed her vote). Mew went on to unsuccessfully campaign for a seat on the San Lorenzo School Board in 2004.

On the San Leandro School Board, the first Asian American to campaign for a seat was Alice Chin, who lost to Paul Meier in 1982. In 1996, Kenneth Pon ran for the At-Large seat on the San Leandro School Board and defeated Justin Agrella, becoming the first Asian American on the School Board. In 1998, Louis Heystek and Dennis Chin both ran unopposed for the Area 4 and Area 6 seats on the School Board. Pon was subsequently re-elected in 2000 and Heystek in 2002. In 2008, Almonte was elected to the Area 1 seat over incumbent Rick Richards. Finally, in 2010, Victoria Wang lost to Lance James for the Area 2 seat.

San Leandro School Board in 2001
San Leandro School Board in 2001 with Dennis Chin, Louis, Heystek and Ken Pon

According to the latest U.S. Census, Asians comprised 29.7% of San Leandro's population in 2010.

Lee will be sworn in at the San Leandro City Council meeting on Monday, December 17, 2012. The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held in the Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at December 17, 2012 2:12 PM | TrackBack
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