March 9, 2018.
Mason Fong, 26, is a third generation Asian American. He has worked in the office of former Congressman Mike Honda and current Congressman Ro Khanna, where he advocates for the Asian American community. He is currently running for office. If elected, he may possibly be the youngest and will only be the third Asian-American in Sunnyvale Council history.
Fong’s grandfather is a “Paper Son” and his mother is a second generation Taishanese. His parents have been involved in government work for many years. His father, Cary Fong, served as one of the first Asian American staffers to Gordon Lau, the first Chinese American elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. His mother, Jenny Lew, was the first city planner for affordable housing at Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco (CCDC). His aunt, Ginger Lew, served as Senior Counselor to the White House National Economic Council.
“I have always had a passion for public service. It is in my genes,” Fong said. At a very young age, he became involved in many politically-related activities and interned in several campaign teams. At UC San Diego, he majored in Urban Planning and minored in Political Science.
Wanting to be more involved in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, Fong returned to the Bay Area, and ultimately worked in the office of former Congressman Mike Honda, where he primarily focused on technology and transportation issues. When Congressman Ro Khanna stepped into office, he stayed to help as Senior Congressional Aide. Fong is currently working in the office of San Jose City Councilman Chappie Jones to gain more knowledge and experience in local policies.
In regards as to why he is running, Fong noted the lack of diversity in the City Council of Sunnyvale. According to the 2010 census, Asians make up nearly 40% of Sunnyvale’s population. In recent years, the Indian and Chinese ethnic groups have increased significantly, but the seven members of the Council does not represent the change. “Since there are no members representing these ethnic groups, it is harder for the Council to truly understand the needs of this group of people.” Many people have a misconception that these people do not care about government affairs, but that is incorrect. “Elected officials need to be more open to communicating and connecting with these people to better understand their ideas, wants, and needs.”
He also mentioned that there is no committee in Sunnyvale dedicated to planning multicultural activities. All the government press releases and announcements are rarely translated to other languages. “I hope to incorporate the Asian culture into Sunnyvale.” For example, in the recent plans to finish downtown Sunnyvale, it is important to include Asian culture, such as having Asian supermarkets and restaurants. “This will allow for the Asian community to feel more like home and a part of the city.”