Some 100 members of the Los Angeles community, including over a dozen elected officials, attended the Korean American Coalition (KAC)'s 21st annual legislative luncheon on Thursday.
This is the first luncheon and major event KAC has hosted since it has welcomed Steve Kang as its new deputy director. Kang, who earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and his master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, previously worked under David Ryu for his campaign for Los Angeles City Council. Kang took the deputy director position in early October.
Los Angeles City Councilmembers David Ryu (4th District) and Mitch O'Farrel (13th District); California Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (53rd District), Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (54th District), and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (59th District); and Congressman Xavier Becerra (34th District) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (43rd District) were among some of the elected officials present at the luncheon.
"Coming here is like coming home -- I started as a volunteer at KAC in college," said Ryu, lauding KAC and its efforts in community organizing. "I owe who I am today to KAC -- it's the place that's opened my eyes to politics and community service."
The annual luncheon is meant to bring more exposure of members and needs of the Korean American community to elected officials, KAC stated. Some of the officials discussed their efforts to expand affordable housing, and reduce homelessness.
"13 to 14 percent of our district include Asian Americans," said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose district includes portions of Inglewood, Gardena, Carson, and Torrance. "And 12 percent of Asian elderly are in poverty. There is a need for affordable housing, especially for seniors, and we are working hard to expand affordable housing options."
Mike Antonovich, the LA County Supervisor for the 5th District, expressed his support to build a cultural center in Koreatown, for which KAC advocated throughout the latter half of this year along with other community organizations and members.
Michael Eng, the Vice President of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, also lauded the role KAC played in allowing Asian Americans to "get a seat at the table," and suggested that future luncheons focus more on Korean American constituents' "demands to the elected officials."
"I hope that when we come back to the luncheon next year, that you will ask us what we've done about homelessness, and the other issues, and that you'll keep us accountable," Eng said.
KAC began in 1983, and advocates for the needs and interests of the Korean American community. It offers various services and programs, including an alternative dispute resolution center that provides dispute resolution for immigrants who are not fluent in English; voter registration; and programs for high school and college students, including mentorship circles, Model United Nations, and the National College Leadership Conference, which focuses on training Korean American collegians for civic engagement.