The official party committee is the first of its kind in the county and aims to increase engagement and visibility.
The Westchester Asian American Democrats (WAAD) officially launched in early May, during the official Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The nascent group’s mission is to increase visibility, representation, and political engagement of Asian Americans.
“It’s a good time to call attention [to Asian American Democrats] because we just came out of 2020 witnessing historic wins in swing states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia where AAPI voters became a force at the ballot box and helped deliver victories for Biden and Senate seats in Georgia,” says Lisa Do Hofflich, a Mount Vernon resident who was elected chair of the group. Do Hofflich is currently Hudson Valley Regional Director and Special Advisor for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and former legislative advisor for New York State Assembly members Amy Paulin and Sandy Galef.
Do Hofflich added that the national surge in violence and racist attacks on Asian Americans, “left many across America wanting action. That action pointed to where our influence and visibility mattered: in government and politics.
“When we see dialogue about ‘speaking up,’ that includes having a seat at the decision-making table — in legislation, in law enforcement, and in media.”
Among the approximately 60,000 AAPI residents in Westchester County, the New York State voter database suggests more than a third are registered voters with nearly 48% registered as Democrats. WAAD aims to increase Democratic registrants across Westchester’s AAPI population, recruit AAPI candidates to run for office, and collaborate with the local Democratic party to engage the community with in-language voter education for greater turnout and impact.
The group’s inaugural meeting, held virtually and attended by more than 60, culminated as AAPI Congressional leaders introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act legislation, which directs federal assistance in addressing the surge in racist incidents and hate crimes against AAPIs since the coronavirus pandemic.
“The inaction or dismissal of hate and violence against the AAPI community, as we have seen in the media and law enforcement, magnifies our lack of representation across all levels of government and it’s motivating many of us to step up for change,” Do Hofflich says.
The Westchester County Democratic Committee has recognized Westchester Asian American Democrats as an official party committee.
“It makes a lot of sense for there to be a Westchester Asian American Democrats committee in our diverse county at this time,” says Suzanne Berger, chair of the Westchester County Democratic Committee. “I am thrilled to work with my fellow Democrats in building a broader coalition and supporting the mission of engaging AAPI Democrats in the political process.”