Guest Post-It From The Intern: First Week On The Job And Why Sam Yoon Needs Your Support

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here's a guest post from Sagar Sane who's interning for the Sam Yoon campaign, and who sent me out an e-mail asking if I could post up something he'd written about his first week. Sagar is from Overland Park, KS and is a graduate student in the Political Campaigning Masters program at the University of Florida.

Why Sam Yoon needs your support
By Sagar Sane

As an Indian-American and a political junkie, I keep tabs on many of the Asian-American candidates that stand for election across the country. Many of them are effective leaders that serve their constituents well. Sam, however, is an extraordinary leader who, if elected, would serve Boston exceptionally.

A few weeks ago, I decided to join the Sam Yoon for Mayor Campaign in Boston as a summer intern. I was a little apprehensive at first, never having worked on a big city campaign; frankly, as a Midwesterner, I had never even been to Boston and didn’t know what to expect. From the news articles and websites I’d read about the Mayoral race in Boston, I gleaned that Sam was a compelling candidate and that Mayor Menino was an entrenched, 4-term incumbent in a city were backroom politics often trump the interests of ordinary people. I felt the work I’d be doing on the campaign would be similar to what’s done by interns on most campaigns: fieldwork, phone calls, office stuff. But, while I have been doing some of that my first week, my experience thus far has been so much more. I’ve had the opportunity to work with staffers, constituents and the candidate himself promoting his candidacy, in parades, on street corners and in door-to-door visits with voters.

In the interactions I’ve had with Sam I’ve been very impressed, not only by his intellect or command of the issues, but by the way he comes off as approachable and interested in addressing the problems of every-day Bostonians. On any issue, he can pinpoint the root causes of the problem and can propose solutions. It doesn’t matter whether he is talking to an African-American voter in Dorchester (where our office is located and where Sam makes his home) or an Anglo-American voter in Jamaica Plains. Sam knows his stuff. People follow. And it shows.

The campaign staff, interns and volunteers are an energetic and dedicated group with varying levels of political experience. They were all drawn to this race not just by the prospect of winning, but because of their belief in Sam’s ability to change the way Boston politics operates, and to make fundamental improvements in the lives of Bostonians. I have seen first-hand how Sam has been able to bring together Boston’s various ethnic groups, interests and citizens without diminishing his beliefs. In the parades and visibility events I’ve participated in so far in the different neighborhoods, Sam has gotten a very strong reception from Bostonians of all backgrounds. People frequently honk their horns and shout “Sam for Mayor” and “Yooooooon!” in crowds.

From what I’ve read amongst the Asian-American blogosphere, there is a considerable amount of chatter over the phrase “model minority.” While Sam does have a stellar educational background, there is something different about him, something that distinguishes him from other candidates. Yes, he is a Korean-American candidate running for the mayor’s office in one of America’s most prominent cities. But he’s also a “rising star” and is followed by the political pundits. And from my point of view it would be more accurate to call him a “model candidate” than a “model minority.” Sam isn’t just a Korean name bundling together a set of issues and interest groups. He is a Korean-American candidate who also happens to have some of the most creative ideas for changing Boston.

Sam is a two-term city councilor, having won an open-seat in 2005 running a grassroots campaign. After spending a decade working on affordable community housing and development issues in Boston, he decided to enter the world of Boston politics. It hasn’t been easy by any means. It’s difficult to change the way this city’s politics operate. But Sam has done a great job as a councilor, working to make the city’s business more transparent. Making the big changes in the way the city’s budget works, the way the schools are funded, the way the transportation infrastructure works, and the way development issues are handled requires a visionary mayor. Sam is the candidate for the job and I’m glad he’s running.

I’ll be blogging more in the next few months about my experiences, but in the meantime, please do check out my site, off of Sam’s website at All of us on the campaign, and especially Sam, would love to have the support of the greater Asian-American community.