I got a chance to chat with Connie, David, and Marjan in early October, and here are excerpts from each of the conversations. The Chinese-language in-depth profile articles are published on Sunday, Oct 18.
With Connie Chan 陳詩敏
Han: What’s your dream at that time when you came to San Francisco from Hong Kong at the age of 13?
Connie: I think at that time, so young, I was thinking about how can I make it to college. I was kinda worried! As a first-generation immigrant, I didn't really speak English or wasn't that well. I was really worried if I could catch up, taking SATs, and apply for colleges. But we got through it, also with a lot of help. I wanna say that. What’s great about San Francisco is, there is a community, the Chinese community, for the longest time really we’re united to assist each other.
Han: What’s your first impression of San Francisco?
Connie: We think we will have a better life here, as long as we work hard. I think there are a lot of challenges back home, that we feel at times, being able to be here, there is a system that helps us succeed, and more opportunities. That’s how I felt, as long as I work hard, as long as my family works hard, then we will be able to stay here and thrive. And I think it was true.
Han: How your working experiences in the different branches of the government will help you?
Connie: It actually requires that, too, right? The experiences and relationships I have built over the years. I think that people know that once I get in, I will continue those relationships that I have built over the years. I think that’s why everybody says I am independent.
Han: Why Suzy Loftus donated to your campaign?
Connie: You will probably have to ask Suzy.
With David Lee 李志威
Han: The Bart to the Richmond District is really a big dream and it might require another two decades?
David: Well, I think we could get it in ten years. The work has to be started now. If you don’t begin, and say, we want this and get consensus from the neighborhood and advocate for it, it will never happen. And I think that we have to have some dreams for our district.
Han: Well. Feels like, it’s been a little bit excluded here.
David: Yeah. And right now this neighborhood is all residential. The other thing I’m different from other candidates is I am against the Navigation Center in Richmond. I don't support the Safe Sleeping Sites. I don't support tents in the Golden Gate Park. I don't believe we should build homeless shelters in the Richmond District. For one very simple reason, the majority of the services that homeless people need, are not located here.
Han: What’s your root and connection with Chinatown?
David: I have deep connections. My father is a member of the Lee Family Association for many decades. I was in the leadership of the Lee Family Association at one time with the Lee Credit Union. The Lee Famly Association has been really helpful and supportive.
With Marjan Philhour 邁珍
Han: Why do you choose to run for supervisor again?
Marjan: I wasn’t expecting to be running again in four years. You know it’s not typical for a sitting supervisor to not choose to run again. So this was a surprise for me. But I am still the same person with the same enthusiasm and commitment to the neighborhood. That’s why I am running again. I’ve run two small businesses now in San Francisco, and I’ve also advocated in the community and worked in local government, the mayor’s office, but also state and federal government. I think government can really help people, and I want to bring that vision and leadership to our community.
Han: You worked for the mayor before. How do you balance between your political allies and your independence as an elected supervisor?
Marjan: Yeah, the mayor will tell you, she and I are two personalities and we disagree all the time. And we don't hide it, right? She wants the diversity of thoughts, which is what I want, too. I think we need to hear all voices, so we can make informed decisions.
Han: Richmond District is what we called the “New Chinatown”.
Marjan: Yeah, our Chinese community in the Richmond and in the entire San Francisco is so important. It’s such a big part of our culture. Chinese community has given so much to us, as far as, immersing us in the food, in the culture, in the celebration, and also the norms. That’s something I am grateful for because not every neighborhood has that. The supervisor from the Richmond should also be working with the supervisor from Chinatown.