Sunday, September 12, 2010


Kris Valderrama is waging an uphill fight to keep her seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

She is the only Filipino-American and one of our four Asian Americans in the bicameral Maryland General Assembly.

The lawmaking General Assembly has 47 senators and 141 delegates elected from 47 districts.

Valderrama is one of three delegates for the 26th district. It was a post held by her father David before she took over in 2007.

But for unknown reasons, she was dropped from the Democratic incumbent slate in the legislative district, and despite being an incumbent is now left to struggle to nail one of the three seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s party nomination contest.

“I’m fighting an uphill battle this time around,” Valderrama concedes, “so I’m running this campaign as it were my first one.”

Fil-Am groups from Northern Virginia and Washington DC have responded to the call by pounding the streets and working the phones to boost her campaign.

The 26th district has been historically dominated by Democrats. Thus, many see the nomination race as the real elections.

An indication perhaps of how tightly Democrats control the district, there is reportedly only one Republican running for a district seat in the November midterm elections.

The 26th district covers one of the fastest growing regions of Prince George’s County that includes the large Fil-Am enclaves in Fort Washington and Oxon Hill.

“The Filipino American vote is very significant in the district,” Valderrama averred.

“We definitely have an effect on the outcome of elections,” she adds.

But their numbers have never really translated into votes and the political clout that emanates from them.

Valderrama recounted how during the last elections, she captured the third and last delegate seat with a 90-vote margin. But an estimated one thousand Fil-Ams who were eligible to vote failed to cast their ballots, she revealed.

“I think a lot of this is because of the fact people are not as familiar with the voting process here for whatever reason,” she explained.

Most Fil-Ams are reportedly anxious about registering to vote for fear they may be called for jury duty. The older Fil-Ams, Valderrama surmised, are turned off by their experience with Philippine politics, believing politicians here or back home are birds of the same feather. Many are simply too busy to vote (voting days here are regular working days).

“I live and represent a predominantly African-American community but it’s pretty diverse and now we’re getting an increased population of Hispanics.

“Some in the African-American community feel I only help the Filipino community then on the other side of the spectrum I have a Filipino community who think I don’t help them enough.

“You can never please everyone and I don’t try to,” Valderrama stressed.

“Who ever is their representative it’s their job to represent everyone in their constituency whether you’re black, white, Asian or Hispanic,” she explained.

“If there is any hesitation for whatever reason they don’t want me to be representative, they should realize who better to look out for their (Fil-Ams’) issues than another Filipina or Filipino,” she told us.

Driving the obvious, Valderrama declared “the Filipino American community has an advantage because I know and I understand the issues they’re confronting.”

Tuesday’s primaries will show whether that realization has sunk in among Maryland Fil-Ams.

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