Sook Wilkinson, former chairperson of the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), has lauded APIA Vote-Michigan (APIA Vote-MI) for its accomplishment in increasing registration of Asian American voters by 155 percent.
In a speech she delivered at APIA Vote-MI’s 5th Annual Dinner held last Sept. 27 at the Pi Banquet Center in Southfield, Wilkinson said,
“I couldn’t be more proud of the things APIA Vote-MI has accomplished and continues to work on.”
“To name a few,” she said, “first, it increased voter registration by 155 percent between 2007 and 2008, compared to 11 percent of the general population.”
Wilkinson, who was the guest speaker, also noted that aside from voter registration, APIA Vote-MI published a first-of-its-kind booklet, “Rising Voices: Revealing Truth, An Assessment of the Community Needs.”
She cited other important activities of APIA Vote-MI. These include building an engagement coalition of five partners to work collaboratively on common issues; launching of APA Legislative Caucus in Lansing; serving as anchor for the Racial Equity Initiative along with three partners – Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee, Mai Family Services and Michigan’s Commission on APA Affairs.
Wilkinson, who was introduced by District 6 State Representative Stephanie Chang, recalled how APIA Vote came into existence. She said that in September 2006, “about 20 people met at the Korean American Cultural Center in Southfield. They came from Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Flint and the Metro Detroit area. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas how we can help the APA community get ready for the upcoming 2008 election and the voting process.”
“We had then several big challenges in our community: low voter registration, poor voter turnout and language diversity, among others. At this meeting, we planted a seed that eventually became what’s now known as APIA Vote-MI.”
“Stephanie Chang was elected president, and she did an outstanding job making us a chapter of the national APIA Vote,” she recalled.
She urged the audience to involve themselves in APIA Vote-MI activities. She said, “If you are not a partner yet with APIA Vote-MI, I urge you to talk to (Executive Director) Theresa (Tran) today about how you can become a partner.”
Wilkinson was one of four awardees at the APIA Vote-MI Annual Dinner. She received the Community Champion Award.
The three other awardees were Mohammed Rhaman and Louxoi Stoakley, who bother received the Rising Star Awards; and Mai Family Services which got the Advocacy Award.