Hmong Elected Official Faced Recall
Dr. Christopher T. Vang
It is another sad day for Hmong Americans in the Central Valley to learn from the local news media that several local agencies have orchestrated a campaign to recall a Hmong elected official. This breaking news left many Hmong Americans to wonder about the new world. The pressure is on and the clock is ticking. But, is this recall necessary? Perhaps, so, depending on what side you are on.
About five months ago, this Hmong elected official’s primary residence came to light when the local media found out about his multiple residences within and outside the district he was elected to represent. Ever since then, the public scrutiny grew and the probe got deeper into his political career. Consequently, he has stepped down as the president of the board, but he continues to remain on the board. He is determined to serve his full term until 2014. But now, the recall is launched, and his future is uncertain.
This Hmong elected official has served the local Hmong community and non-Hmong community well for nearly four decades. His public services and track records speak for themselves. No one could ever have done more than he. Many local Hmong Americans have looked up to him for guidance, and of course, he is a role model for many of the local Hmong Americans from the early 1980s to the present time. Despite the current political debacle, he is still a distinguished professional and leader in this culturally diverse community.
Hmong Americans have come a long way before entering the western politics to seek public offices to share civil responsibility, especially leadership roles. He was the first Hmong elected to hold a public office in Fresno. His political successes have inspired others to run for public offices. But now, he is facing a recall and that may discourage some Hmong Americans. As for this case, believe it, or not, most of the agencies that organized this recall campaign have supported him in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and now they want him out because of the controversy involving his residences. That is like shooting oneself on the foot. He is now a lame duck in this political game. However, that is the way western politics has always been. They would support you when they needed you, and they will sacrifice you when they need a sacrificial animal to offer to the cause.
Obviously, the whole thing was a personal mistake, and politicians make ignorant mistakes and do not manage their personal lives well. But, as seen in this case, some people cannot just take it like that; they have to fulfill their political appetite by recalling him.
As reported, he is not the first board member who resides outside a designated district. Former board members had done the same in the past, but there was no recall campaign. That is not about social justice for the people, by the people, and of the people. This seems to be an elite movement to organize a recall campaign because many people have disagreed with this Hmong elected official’s decisions on many issues. Moreover, it is unclear in public perceptions how these groups want to run the district to change the status quo.
Like any other politicians, not all decisions are perfect, but this Hmong elected official has done all he could to help the district. His siding with the majority in making decision is nothing unusual, and that is the way how people play politics. However, he could not use his rubber stamp to approve everything the way these people wanted him to do. In other words, he cannot please all of them. So now, his inability to please people will cause him his position as a board member. When all things considered, this recall campaign could have achieved nothing different, but just a waste of tax money for a recall that is unnecessary in the time of economic hardship.
These groups should have learned from past experiences. Just two months ago, Wisconsin failed to recall its governor who repealed union rights for benefits. However, California recalled its own governor nearly a decade ago, and California was not better off. In fact, California was getting worse when voters put a governor who had extramarital affairs in office for several years. When he’s done, Californians were left with nothing but shame and disappointments. This recall campaign shares the same plight. If this recall is successful, his replacement changes nothing. Perhaps, these groups will find someone who will be able to please people’s emotions and keep buttering up to hold his or her job on the board. In fact, these groups have called for the same change years ago when many of them helped elect this Hmong elected official to serve on the board. Now they are repeating the same process, and that is nothing new to add to the board. It seems like whomever they want to serve on the board will end up the same way.
As for Hmong Americans, we should embrace one another in the time of having a tough time or facing an imminent crisis, like this one; and together, Hmong Americans will learn how to educate themselves better to get ready before seeking public offices. Do not let this case haunts Hmong Americans’ spirits and souls. As a community, Hmong Americans deserve better and must be united for a strong voice in the political arena.