On Nov. 7, Kathy Tran, a refugee from Vietnam, became one of the first Asian-American women elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Her experience as a refugee fleeing violence and persecution inspired her to run for office and build a more welcoming culture for immigrants in America.
On a late October afternoon, Tran, a 39-year-old workforce policy expert, put on her well-worn tennis shoes and strapped her 9-month-old daughter into a baby carrier to canvass the winding, suburban streets of Springfield.
As she talked to neighbors about traffic congestion and education, her daughter coo’ed and kicked her legs.
The Republican in that race is Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. She says Trump is a positive disruptor.
The Democrat in that race, Kathy Tran, disagrees with that assessment. “Like Trump, Lolita would defund Planned Parenthood. That’s definitely not a positive disruption. And Trumpcare, in its most extreme form would take away health care from 800,000 Virginians, again not a positive disruption.”
Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak is a proud supporter of President Donald Trump, a man she calls a "positive disruptor." Democrat Kathy Tran has emerged as a leading voice of the opposition to a Republican White House.
“I’m doing this for my kids,” said Tran. “I’m a mom of four, and I want to make sure that my kids have the best and brightest future and not just them but all the other children and families in my community, and that’s what this election is really all about.”
If and when she prevails in the November 7 general election, Kathy Tran would be the third Asian American delegate to the Virginia State Assembly. She would also be the first Vietnamese American elected at any level in Virginia.
But this is not the reason Tran is running for public office for the first time. In telephone and email interviews, her sincerity and passion for public service sparkled. “There is so much at stake in Virginia this November,” she said. “The entire country is watching what happens here.”
Our new favorite baby name is Elise Minh Khanh. It belongs to the daughter of Kathy Tran, who is running to unseat Republican Dave Albo in the House of Delegates. Tran explains that “Elise” refers to Ellis Island, where her husband’s Jewish ancestors arrived on these shores. “Minh Khanh” means “bright bell” and is a reference to the Liberty Bell. “Her name means to us, ‘Ring the bells of liberty and champion opportunity for all,’” Tran — the daughter of Vietnamese refugees — told The Huffington Post.
A child of Vietnamese-Jewish heritage named after Ellis Island and the Liberty Bell might be just about the most American thing we’ve ever heard of. Excuse us for a minute while we go wave the Stars and Stripes.