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Taiwanese-American throws hat into California governor race

Taiwanese-American throws hat into California governor race

Incumbent California State Treasurer John Chiang (江俊輝), who is of Taiwanese descent, has recently announced his bid in the next California gubernatorial election that will take place in 2018 to elect the state's new governor.

Chiang was born in 1962 in New York, after his parents -- both from Taiwan -- met each other and got married in the United States.

The current California state treasurer and former state controller announced last week his intention to run for governor.

During an interview with CNA, he said his grandfather had a great impact on his career plans.

When he was six or seven, he went back to Taiwan to visit his grandparents, he said.

"My grandfather was an attorney and he was also in public service and he helped people in the community," Chiang said. "I was very, very fascinated by what he was doing to help other people."

After that visit, Chiang decided to follow in his grandfather's footsteps as an attorney, although his parents had hoped he would become a doctor.

As the oldest child in his family, Chiang felt he was obliged to protect his younger brothers and sister, he said. This sense of mission and justice was the drive for him to enter public service.

After he was born in New York, his family later moved to Chicago, where he grew up in the suburbs, he said.

During that time, his family faced some racial discrimination, he added.

For example, their mail box and garage would be defaced with racist words and he sometimes had to engage in fistfights against others just to protect his siblings, he recalled.

Noting these experiences, he said that "it's very important to have all voices be part of the decision-making process that creates better communities, that creates better states, that creates a better country."

One of the good things about the U.S. is that "you get the opportunity to change the laws to try to improve society," said Chiang, who was elected in 2014 as California's 33rd state treasurer after having served as the state controller.

To be nominated as the Democratic Party candidate in the governor's election, Chiang has to win the Democratic primary first, beating other politicians also interested in the race, including former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Steve Westly, former California state controller.

Speaking of the characteristics of a good leader, he said a good political leader should be responsible and careful, and should talk to experts in the field, as well as individuals who will be impacted by a certain policy.

"So I would like to be thoughtful and also inclusive about the way I make decisions," Chiang said.

Chiang said he has good memories of his visit to Taiwan, such as the delicious food.

He also noted that there is a growing number of immigrants from Taiwan to California, who are "making extraordinary, profound and important contributions to California and the U.S."

(By Edward Tsao and Elaine Hou)