More than a hundred residents of Western Washington state’s South Asian community gathered at the Sammamish Boys and Girls Club on Sunday, July 1 to witness the joint launch of two organizations aimed at advancing the political future of South Asians in the U.S. — South Asian Americans Together for Washington (SAATWA), and the South Asian Political Action Committee (SAPAC).
Approximately 110 community members, elected officials, and candidates for office were at the meeting, according to a press release.
Among the speakers at the event was Washington State Senator Manka Dhingra (D-Kirkland) and State Representative Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue). Both Dhingra and Slatter spoke of their experience as lawmakers, and dwelt on the potential of both new organizations to change the way that South Asians in the state interact with politics and their government.
Aseem Chipalkatti, president of SAATWA and board member Lalita Uppala spoke about the need to organize, educate, and engage the South Asian community in Washington State, as well as the history of the work that the India Association of Western Washington (IAWW) has been doing in the same field, a press release from the organizations said.
“We are starting South Asian Americans Together for Washington to start writing [our] future. By specifically addressing the issues of economic equity, educational access, gender justice, and community health, we start to write a better future for our entire community,” Chipalkatti is quoted saying at the event.
SAPAC co-founders Jubilee Seth, Tahmina Watson, and Amish Dave explained the aims of the South Asian PAC and issues to be addressed before and after the Midterm elections Nov. 6. Helping aspiring candidates financially was among the other services the PAC hopes to deliver.
“It is expensive to put your life on hold and run a campaign that needs enormous operating funds,” noted Watson. Organizers say SAPAC hopes to change the way South Asian candidates campaign in Washington State by providing increased community resources, thereby allowing them to focus more on reaching out to voters and less on holding multiple fundraisers for wealthy donors.
South Asian Americans Together for Washington will now focus on voter registration and education in King County in preparation for the August 2018 primary elections, according to the press release, hosting a candidate forum in the Washington Eighth Congressional District Race in September for candidates who win the primaries.