San Diego has elected its first Asian-American to the city council in nearly 50 years.
City Councilmember-Elect Chris Cate won the District 6 seat with 55 percent of the vote. The Republican beat challenger Democrat Carol Kim, also Asian-American.
District 6 encompasses Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Miramar, Rancho Peñasquitos and Mira Mesa.
Many Asian-Americans in District 6 told NBC 7 they’re optimistic they will have more say in city government with a councilman they believe will represent not only their interests but also that of the surrounding community.
“Our voice is being heard in the community. We are coming together now where we used to be always separate. You know, there was the Chinese community, there was a Korean community, there was a Filipino community, the Japanese community. Now we’re being heard as one voice,” said Tress Balch, owner of Happy Sushi.
That’s because the newly drawn district encompasses areas boasting an Asian Pacific Islander (API) community that makes up more than 30 percent of its population.
Cate said he’s humbled to represent this community.
“I’m excited about serving the API community and making sure we’re giving back. I’m looking forward to working and leading the next generation of APIs and getting them involved and active in community service,” he said.
It was a tough choice for some voters between Cate and Kim. Balch said he was won over by Cate’s dedication to law enforcement and small business issues.
“He ran on the fact that he wants to improve law enforcement. His father was a law enforcement person, and as a parent, I want a safe neighborhood,” he said.
Balch employs 20 people at his restaurant and hopes Cate’s policies will help him hire even more.
“If you make business easier, maybe we can employ 25 to 30 people,” he said.
Cate’s victory also changes the city council’s veto-proof majority for the Democrats. The Republicans now have a more equal hand with five Democrats to four Republicans.