Major Cambodian American Victories in 2020 US Elections: First Two Khmer Women Elected to State and Local Offices

Posted Date: 11/13/2020

By Soben Pin | Facebook/Twitter@SobenPin

Boston, MA—The 2020 US Elections made history. Republicans and Democrats struggle in a tight race. For Cambodian Americans, there are two definite victories: the first Khmer woman elected to the State House Representative Vanna Howard, and the first Cambodian American and first Khmer woman elected to the City Council in Long Beach, California. This election is a big milestone for Cambodian American history.

President-Elect Joe Bidden and Vice President-Elect Kalama Harris delivers victory speech on November 7, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

The United States Presidential race gave a victory to Democrat Joe Bidden on Saturday night, 5 days after the election, as key states flipped Blue. At 264 electoral votes, Bidden needed only 6 more electoral votes to win his presidency. Pennsylvania turned blue late Saturday by a small margin of 60,233 votes or (49.9% vs. 49.0%) and resulted in Joe Bidden becoming the next president of the United States. President-Elect Joe Bidden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris delivered the victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. In the following days, Bidden won a few more states. Now President-Elect Joe Bidden has a majority of 291 electoral votes, however, President Trump still have not conceded.

President Donald Trump spoke about early results from the 2020 U.S. presidential election in the East Room of the White House in Washington on November 4, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump also filed several lawsuits in key states as the election results were narrow in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada in an effort to contest the election results. Many lawsuits were thrown out of the courts. In his tweet, Joe Bidden said that he “ran the campaign as a proud democrat but he will be the American President”. President Trump held a press conference on the 3rd day after the election and said that there was voter suppression, and voting irregularity and he will protect the American legal votes. And he tweeted that he “won the campaign by large” on the same day Bidden declared his victory, twitter flagged the president’s post for the first time in 4 years of his presidency.

MA State Rep-Elect Vanna Howard

Meanwhile, Massachusetts voted 65% for Bidden, and also elected the first Khmer Woman to the State House Representative. Vanna Howard will represent district 17, which includes part of downtown Lowell and Chelmsford.

In Long Beach, California, first of the first. First Cambodian American and first Khmer woman also was elected to the City council in Long Beach, Dr. Suely Saro, for the 6th District. She beat a powerful Vice Mayor Dee Andrew by over 60% of the votes (7,528 votes vs. 5,047 votes).

Long Beach Councilwoman-Elect Dr. Suely Saro

The 6th District includes Signal Hill and part of Cambodia Town in Long Beach. District 6 is not where the majority Cambodian Americans live; however, Dr. Suely Saro ran an aggressive campaign since the beginning that put her in position to win by rallying all local officials, democrats, clubs organizations, and labor unions endorsements, racking up to more than 2 dozen endorsements, including Senator Bernie Sander.

Vanna Howard on the other hand, is an experienced politician having worked with Congresswoman Niki Tsongas for more than 10 years as the Regional Director, serving over 800 thousands people in the 3rd congressional district of Massachusetts. Dr. Suely Saro on the other coast, worked with former State Senator Ricardo Lara that paved her the way to the 6th district and L.A. region. She also served as the Chairperson of Long Beach’s Citizen Police Complaint Commission, and currently is a professor at Cal State, Los Angeles.

The 2020 U.S presidential election is a remarkable year for Cambodian Americans as the first two Khmer women are elected to the highest public offices and they make history.