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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / Arcadia’s Jason Lee credits heritage as big motivator for City Council run

Arcadia’s Jason Lee credits heritage as big motivator for City Council run

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Following the passing of former Arcadia City Council member Roger Chandler, the city began searching for someone to fill the unexpired term for Arcadia City Council District 5 that is meant to last until November 2022.

The criteria for applicants is not incredibly daunting. As long as an individual is a resident of Arcadia who resides in District 5, while at the same time being a registered voter of the city, they are eligible to run.

However, in the crowded field of applicants, one might stick out over the others.

Jason Lee, who among other achievements is the Managing Attorney and CEO for a law corporation, has resided in Arcadia for serval years. He is actively involved in the community — particularly as a member of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce — and outside of the city as well — look no further than his board member run for the U.S. Army Southern California Community Advisory Board.

His educational background, along with his entrepreneurial ability, speaks for itself in terms of Lee’s capabilities. It is hard to find someone with more experience than Lee from an empirical perspective. Yet, he believes that what makes him a standout candidate for City Council is his ideology and heritage rather than his personal accomplishments.

“To me, Arcadia is a very desirable community. We have the Santa Anita Park, the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the Methodist Hospital, one of the best school districts in the state. My goal will always be to preserve the quality of this community, along with the citizen’s quality of life,” Lee mentioned.

In every sentence Lee spoke, his love and passion for the city always shined brighter than the technicalities of his proposals. To him, his presence in District 5 would mean keeping Arcadia the strongest community it can possibly be. Thus, his campaign motto; “Preserve Arcadia, Protect Arcadia, Prosper in Arcadia”

Each factor  — the “three P’s” as Lee calls them —  plays a role in what he describes as an effort to “continue modernizing Arcadia.” He believes that if the City Council’s focus lies on these sentiments, it will lead to a city that is not only looking to maintain a strong way of living for its citizens but is also going to maintain public safety and invite outside businesses to join the Arcadia community.

“We need to make sure that the city is inviting and encouraging business developers, particularly private developers,” Lee mentioned. “Focusing on the business development in the downtown area will be an essential part of what I will push for. Continuing to remodel and rehabilitate that segment of the city, similar to what Monrovia has done with Myrtle (Avenue) — creating a gameplan to make downtown one of the most attractive parts of Arcadia.”

More than anything, though, Lee’s highest motivation to claim a seat in the council is the pride he feels for his Chinese heritage.

Nearly half a decade ago, Arcadia — much like every city surrounding the San Gabriel Mountains — was uniformly White. However, as continued Census data began to be released, there was a noticeable shift in the geography of the city, as the Asian demographic became more and more prevalent.

In 2010, Arcadia was 45% Asian-American. Five years prior, statistics were released that showed 63-65% of the Arcadia High student body was also of Asian descent. These sorts of numbers showed a trend; that Arcadia was not only holding one of the most diverse communities among the Asian-American demographic but that those percentages would continue to rise.

The 2020 Census Bureau’s data on the city proved that estimate true, as the city became predominantly Asian-American with a 61.6% total. Comparatively, the second-highest percentage among the “Race and Hispanic” origin was White with a 28.4% distinction.

The city, of course, is no stranger to Asian-American representation among higher officials. Mayor Sho Tay was born in Taiwan and moved to Japan before migrating to the U.S., and Mayor Pro Tem Paul P. Cheng also comes of Asian descent.

For Lee, one of his biggest motivators to run for City Council and to represent District 5 is to continue that trend of making the city’s Asian-American community feel represented, while also allowing them the opportunity to make their voices heard.

“Arcadia is a multicultural, multi-racial city, and I’m incredibly proud of that,” Lee said. “I feel I am the perfect candidate to represent that aspect of Arcadia. Of course with my Chinese background, but also with my ability to speak to those diverse communities. I am bilingual in Chinese, and with the city holding a prosperous Chinese body, being able to speak to those citizens in their native language, to me, is very important.”

At this point in the campaign, Lee has already established the groundwork for his candidacy. On Dec. 9, Lee, along with the rest of the candidates, attended an interview — which was an open session to the public — with the active members of the City Council. 

Now, all Lee can do is continue to reach out to the community, declare the intention of his campaign and wait for a potential special election to be called on April 12, 2022 — and if not, the results of the race to elect a new city councilmember will be announced in June 2022.

For more information on voting in the City of Arcadia, visit www.arcadiaca.gov/discover/city_council/district_based_voting_.php.

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