Meet the AAPI Staffers Behind the 2020 Presidential Candidates: Kenneth Gonzales
Despite being the fastest growing minority group in the country, AAPIs are largely underrepresented in politics. But that is now changing with this generation’s actively engaged AAPI community and youth. AAPIs are more involved in the political process than ever before, that includes the 2020 Presidential elections. Leading up to the first-ever AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum, we’re featuring AAPI staffers on some of the 2020 Presidential campaigns. We recognize that, as role models and leaders, they are paving the way toward a more diverse and inclusive America.
For this feature, we had the chance to sit down with Kenneth Gonzales from the Pete Buttigieg campaign.
Meet Kenneth Gonzales
Kenneth is currently a Regional Organizing Director for the Pete for America Iowa team covering Southwest Iowa. Previously, he had worked at Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO. He is a staunch advocate of immigrant, reproductive, and workers rights, and his life’s mission is ensuring pro-immigrant candidates are elected at all levels of office. He believes Mayor Pete is the candidate we need in this moment because of his fresh perspective and his unique ability to unite people across the political spectrum.
Why is it important for AAPIs to engage with this election cycle?
This is a make or break moment in our nation’s history, and we need to meet this moment with the urgency it requires. From healthcare, immigration, the climate crisis, the economy, and our democracy - there is so much at stake for AAPI communities across the country. Too often AAPI communities are seen as being passive and politically disengaged but history tells us otherwise. From the ‘manongs’ of the farm workers movement of the 1960s to the Muslim-led airport protests that emerged following the racist Muslim Bans of the Trump-Pence administration. It is clear that when AAPIs are engaged and organized, we accomplish amazing things -- and the 2020 cycle should be no different.
What does working on a presidential campaign mean to you?
It means packing up my life and moving across the country to make a difference. It means learning from others who come from different walks of life, and building a team of organizers and volunteers who are ready to do what it takes to take our democracy back. It is honoring AAPI leaders who have paved the way for me to have this opportunity, paying it forward for future AAPI campaign staffers, and honoring #Friendship2020 and celebrating other AAPI campaign staffers also grinding for their candidate.
Our voices matter! AAPIs deserve to be heard. Raise your voice on September 7-8 at the AAPI Community Action Summit and the first ever AAPI Presidential Forum. This is a great opportunity to engage with the issues facing our community and hear from 2020 Presidential Candidates. For tickets and information, click here.