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Asian Americans Rising Pens Letters to DPOC in Support of Irvine’s Farrah Khan


Farrah Khan

While Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is in its final days, Asian Americans Rising (AAR) will continue to celebrate the many achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), including elected officials representing Orange County. Today, Asian Americans Rising submitted a letter to the Democratic Party of Orange County with 60 signatories, many of whom are AAPI Community Leaders, in support of Irvine Councilwoman Farrah Khan. Other non AAPI community supporters, such as Assemblywoman Cottie Petri-Norris, also signed the letter. [see below]

“Councilwoman Khan is the first Muslim woman ever to be elected in Orange County, and the first Asian American woman to be elected to the Irvine City Council,” said Tammy Kim, Asian Americans Rising Co-Founder. “Councilwoman Khan has spent years fighting for progressive values and appointing people of color to leadership positions in the community.”

“We are disappointed that an anonymous letter distributed to members of the DPOC Central Committee members and attendees generated overly harsh criticism of Councilwoman Khan,” said AAR board member, Patty Yoo. “We believe she is being held to an unfair double standard.”

“We believe DPOC shares our goal of increasing the number of AAPI voters, which Councilwoman Khan helped to deliver in the last election cycle,” said AAR board member, Priscilla Huang. “We ask that the DPOC put an end to this campaign and work with AAR to better engage with the AAPI electorate.”

Asian Americans Rising is a progressive non-partisan organization made up of members of the pan-Asian diaspora who seek to elevate the political voice and impact of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Orange County.

Here’s the Letter:

May 30, 2019

Dear Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committee Members, Board Members, and Officers,

Asian Americans Rising (AAR), joined by the undersigned individuals, write in response to efforts to an unsigned letter that was distributed among Central Committee Members and attendees of the DPOC meeting on May 20, 2019. The letter outlined multiple charges against Councilwoman Farrah Khan and seeks her removal from the DPOC. AAR is a progressive non-partisan organization made up of Pan-Asian members who seek to elevate the political voice and impact of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Orange County.

We celebrate the achievements of Councilwoman Farrah Khan who has spent years fighting for

progressive values, such as women’s reproductive rights and LGTBQ rights. We celebrate her as the first Muslim woman ever to be elected in Orange County, and the first Asian woman to be elected to the Irvine City Council. We celebrate that Councilwoman Khan has appointed a person of color in every single one of her appointed commissioner spots. Forty-five percent of the overall Irvine population is AAPI. In the past November 2018 election cycle, there were 19,265 AAPI voters who voted in the Irvine City Council election. Of those voters, 4,544 were Republican, 6,240 were Democrat, and the remaining 8,481 were NPP or minor 3rd party members. Of the AAPI NPP voters, a significant number swung Democrat. As the top vote getter, Councilwoman Khan played an instrumental role in bringing out the AAPI community to vote for democratic candidates. People who would have otherwise not come to out to vote, came out to vote for not only for Councilwoman Khan, but also Congresswoman Katie Porter and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris.

Councilwoman Khan holds a fiduciary responsibility of care, loyalty, and impartiality for the residents of Irvine that she serves. Her judgment was that, the vast majority of voters in Irvine would react negatively to a vote for a special election and its $900,000 price tag, and that the downsides of such a vote were not outweighed by its potential benefits. While many, including several of us, do not agree with this view, we all believe that this was a thoughtful and defensible decision, and certainly not one that would justify the harsh reaction that Councilmember Khan is receiving.

From our lens, it appears that Councilwoman Khan is being held to standards which other elected officials have not been held to. For example, Councilwoman Khan is being criticized for having appointed a Republican as her finance commissioner, even as many other Democratic Councilmembers, past and present, in Irvine and elsewhere, have also appointed registered Republicans to these non-partisan positions. We are deeply concerned that there is a double standard at work, one which unfairly holds Asian-Americans and other persons of color to a higher standard than their white counterparts.

We believe that the DPOC shares our goal of increasing the number of AAPI voters who support progressive candidates. This campaign to humiliate and remove Councilwoman Khan from the DPOC runs counter to the long term strategic objectives of the party. We ask that you swiftly end this campaign to remove Councilwoman Khan from the DPOC. Together, we will move forward to engage the AAPI electorate.

In Solidarity,

Tammy Kim

Co-Founder, Asian Americans Rising; Korean American Democratic Committee; Korean

American Community Leader; AAPI Activist


Patty Yoo

Asian Americans Rising Board, DGI Member


Priscilla Huang

Asian Americans Rising (Board member)


Susan Lew

Asian Americans Rising, Community Activist


Sukhee Kang

Former Mayor of Irvine


Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen

Councilmember, City of Garden Grove


Naz Hamid

Asian Americans Rising, Education Activist, Asian Community Activist


Joe Pak

Lifetime Democrat, Former Obama Administration Appointee


Cottie Petrie-Norris

CA State Assembly


Jessica Cha,

Korean American Democratic Committee; Secretary, Orange County Asian American Bar



Shikha Bhatnagar

South Asian Community Leader


Cyril Yu

Chinese American Community Leader


Tracy La

Vietnamese Community Leader and Activist


Jennifer Koh

Immigration Law Professor


Caroline Hahn

Korean American Democratic Committe e


Dr. Linda Vo

UC Irvine


Fengshun Alvin Chang

UC Irvine


Branda Lin

Irvine Community Services Commissioner


Arnel Dino

DPOC Executive Board Rep AD65, DPOC Central Committee Member(AD 65), State

Chair, Filipino American Democratic Caucus of CDP


Charlie Choi

Korean Association of Senior Citizens


Andrew Chou

Elected Councilmember


Briana Kim

Korean American Democratic Committee


Beth Krom Former

Irvine Mayor and Councilmember


Avinder Chawla



Ryan Ahari

Peace Corps


Rida Hamida

CA State Assembly, Muslim Community Leader


Nathaniel Epstein

Filipino Community Leader


Ritesh Srivastava



Beth Fujishige



Afreen Mirza

Pakistani Community Leader


Mari Fujii

Community Activist


Sabiha Siddiqui



Vicki Tamoush



Jutta Gamboa




Samira Saleh



Daniel Luo

Asian Americans Rising


Yanni Guo



Fauzia Rizvi

Corona Norco Democratic Club


Michelle V. Duman

Member, DPOC Central Committee


Kiran Srivastava



Josephine Park

Modus Education


Steve Huang



Talor Williams

UCI Alum, Progressive Student Alliance at UCI, SGI-USA National / West Territory /

Southern California West Zone / North Orange County Region / Tustin-Orange Chapter /

Santiago Hills District


William Leonard

President of The Progressive Student Alliance at U.C. Irvine


Eugene Fields

Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter


Aaruni Thakur

OC Dem


Mariam Tariq

City of Irvine


Hishmah Hamid

California State University Fullerton


Maria Olivieri Minney

Self employed


Robin Gurien



Enrica Costa

Irvine resident


Dannie Cesena

CA LGBTQ Health, Human Services Network, Orange County Equality Coalition


Claudia Perez



Ray Regalado

Asian Americans Rising


Amir Baum

Climate Reality Orange County Chapter


Ariane Jong

UC Irvine


Hyepin Im

Faith and Community Empowerment


Gianna Lum

UC Irvine


Melahat Rafiei



Eugene Hung

Feminist Asian Dad Blog


Mark Tabbert

Citizens climate Lobby


Jennette Jun

Volunteer, National Asian Pacific Center for Aging

One Comment

  1. Gail Lewis Gail Lewis June 1, 2019

    I wish you would have printed the unsigned letter also. Farrah maybe a progressive in her heart but not in her votes. So far she has voted consistently with the conservatives backing the builder 5 PTS every wish. She also voted on NOT giving the residents of Irvine a chance to vote for the 5th council member. Instead the council member was chosen by the conservatives on the council. Is this a real progressive?

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