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San Francisco Appoints 1st Noncitizen Activist to Election Commission

In a groundbreaking move, the San Francisco Elections Commission appoints Kelly Wong, an immigrant rights advocate and non-U.S. citizen, to serve as an official, marking a significant milestone for the city’s governance.

Milestone Appointment

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Kelly Wong, originally from Hong Kong, arrived in the U.S. in 2019 for graduate studies. 

Her appointment marks a significant milestone for immigrant and marginalized communities in San Francisco, signaling a shift towards more inclusive representation in local government.

Embracing Representation

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In her LinkedIn post, Wong expressed her profound commitment to ensuring that all residents, regardless of immigration status, have a voice in shaping the city’s future. 

Her appointment underscores the importance of representation and diversity in decision-making processes.

Removing Citizenship Requirement

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The appointment of noncitizens to city boards became possible in 2020 when voters approved a proposal to remove the requirement of U.S. citizenship for candidates seeking office. 

This legislative change paved the way for greater inclusivity and diversity in San Francisco’s governance.

Acknowledgment of Activism

Credit: DepositPhotos – San Francisco, CA – Jan 26, 2024: Supervisor Aaron Peskin speaking about the waterfront flood study and flood measures to address sea level rise along the citys waterfront. — Photo by Sheilaf2002

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin applauds Wong’s activism and dedication to enfranchising marginalized communities, emphasizing her tireless efforts to educate and empower noncitizens. 

Wong’s commitment to social justice and civic engagement resonates with local leaders and advocates alike.

Focused Priorities

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Wong’s agenda includes enhancing immigrant and non-English voter engagement, particularly in San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system. 

Additionally, she aims to improve translations of voter materials to overcome language barriers, ensuring equitable access to the electoral process for all residents.

Role in the Elections Commission

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As a member of the civilian-led commission, Wong will play a vital role in overseeing policy and operations for the city’s Department of Elections. 

Her diverse perspective and advocacy for marginalized communities will contribute to the advancement of voting rights and access in San Francisco.

Continued Advocacy

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In addition to her commission role, Wong will continue her impactful work with the progressive advocacy group Chinese for Affirmative Action. 

By advocating for the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and other marginalized groups, Wong remains committed to advancing social justice causes.

Impactful Advocacy Efforts

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Chinese for Affirmative Action’s successful campaign led to the amendment of laws, allowing noncitizens to serve on local commissions and advisory boards. 

This legislative victory created more opportunities for immigrant voices to be heard in the policymaking process, promoting greater inclusivity in governance.

Beacon of Hope

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Wong’s appointment serves as a beacon of hope for immigrants, demonstrating that change is possible and encouraging others to engage in policy-making and civic participation. 

Her journey from Hong Kong to San Francisco exemplifies the transformative power of advocacy and community engagement.

A Vision for Inclusivity

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Vincent Pan of Chinese for Affirmative Action envisions a future where immigrant and non-citizen involvement in city governance is no longer considered newsworthy but rather the norm. 

By promoting diversity and inclusivity in leadership positions, San Francisco can better reflect the rich tapestry of its communities.

Celebrating Diversity in Leadership

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The appointment of Kelly Wong reflects San Francisco’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in leadership positions, setting a precedent for cities nationwide. 

By embracing the talents and perspectives of individuals from diverse backgrounds, cities can foster more vibrant and inclusive communities.

Moving Towards Equitable Representation

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As Kelly Wong assumes her role on the Election Commission, San Francisco takes a significant step forward in ensuring equitable representation and participation in local governance for all residents. 

By championing diversity and inclusivity, cities can build stronger, more resilient communities that reflect the richness of their populations.

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