90 minutes | Sep 11, 2020

Episode 68: Civic Advocacy and Politics with Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright of Ballot Breakers, State Rep. Padma Kuppa of MI, State Rep. Patty Kim of PA

Jessica Nguyen sits down with Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright of Ballot Breakers, Representative Padma Kuppa of Michigan, and Representative Patty Kim of Pennsylvania to discuss civic advocacy and American politics. We start off the episode learning about the women’s relationship with politics, a field they all originally viewed as dirty business and were reluctant to partake in. They all share how their backgrounds and life experiences have influenced the work that they do in the political space, whether that is as a state representative amplifying and advocating for their communities or the founder of a platform that highlights the younger generation of politicians and celebrates their victories. For State Representatives Patty and Padma, we hear more about their journey running for office, touching upon the causes they are passionate about and the importance of active listening. They talked about the challenges they faced as well as their proudest achievements as elected officials. Lacy shares the origin story of Ballot Breakers and the takeaways she has learned as being a voice for young, aspiring Democratic candidates. Realizing how often she would get cut off or dismissed in certain political spaces because of her identity, she realized the power of allies and communities who support and will help amplify your voice. Directly addressing what is going on in the world, they shared how they have been affected by and are responding to the COVID-19 epidemic and to the issue of police brutality in connection with systemic racism that exists in the US. We end the interview with insights about the world of politics: things they wish people knew about this space as well as advice for those considering running for office. Thinking toward the future, they share their vision of hope and change as active participants in civic advocacy. LACY LEW NGUYEN WRIGHT: Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright is the creator of Ballot Breakers, a website series interviewing young progressive candidates running for office and has featured over 50 candidates representing young people’s perspectives in government. She was previously an Editor-at-Large at Huffington Post. Her writings can also be found on Elite Daily, The Moviegoer, The Bottom Line, and HelloFlo. Lacy is based in whichever coffee shop has the best mocha. BALLOT BREAKERS: We’re seeing young people running for office in droves, seizing the opportunity to take control of their futures and give voice to the people who aren’t being represented in today’s government. These candidates are breaking tradition, transforming what it means to be a candidate. Ballot Breakers seeks to authentically showcase these energized young people, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and platforms. Ballot Breakers don’t just represent their generation -- they represent their constituents, communities and progressive values throughout the country. WEBSITE: ballotbreakers.com INSTAGRAM: @ballotbreakers | @alwaysbewright TWITTER: @lacylewwright State Representative PATTY KIM, a former news anchor and reporter and Harrisburg City Councilwoman, was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012 and has been a leader in government reform and transparency. She returned her cost of living increase (COLA) and introduced a bill to eliminate the yearly pay increases. She is also one of the only members of the House to post all of her expenses on her legislative website for public review. Kim's priorities in the General Assembly include taking a solution-based approach to statewide issues, working in cooperation and collaboration with colleagues, and utilizing her record of service to support initiatives that stand to better the lives of the citizens she represents. Leading her caucus’s charge to provide a livable wage for all Pennsylvanians, Kim twice introduced bills to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. She continues her fight for a minimum wage increase to restore the middle class by lifting thousands of Pennsylvanians out of poverty. Kim serves on the Appropriations, Education, Local Government and Transportation committees. She is Vice Co-Chair of the Southeast Delegation. During her second term, she served as Treasurer for the Legislative Black Caucus. Prior to her work in the legislature, Kim was elected to Harrisburg's City Council where she served two terms. She was elected as council Vice President by her colleagues during her second term. A 1995 graduate of Boston College, Kim is married to John Sider and together they have two children, Brielle and Ryan. WEBSITE: www.pattykim.com PADMA KUPPA is serving in her first term as State Representative for Troy and Clawson, Michigan's 41st District. She is assistant Democratic Whip, and serves on the Energy, and Local Government and Municipal Finance Committees. She is an engineer, with automotive and technical background and is an advocate on environmental issues and reducing climate change. Her passion for all things local includes extensive community involvement, with several years on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals and in K-12 PTAs. It shows in the way she digs into the bills that come before the Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee. Kuppa came to the U.S. from India at the age of four and grew up in America before moving to India as a teenager. After receiving her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology Warangal, Kuppa moved home to the U.S. for graduate school, and went through the immigration and naturalization process, She got married and started a family before moving to the 41st district more than 20 years ago Kuppa has a career that spans the automotive, financial, and IT industries, with rich and varied community leadership at the local, state and national level. She is co-founder of the Troy-area Interfaith Group and currently President of the Troy Historical Society and a board member of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. As the first Indian immigrant and Hindu in the State Legislature, she brings a fresh perspective to the State House. WEBSITE: kuppa.housedems.com | electpadmakuppa.com FACEBOOK: @mirreppadmakuppa | @reelectpadma INSTAGRAM: @mireppadmakuppa TWITTER: @padmakuppami41 Summary by Joanne Nguyen
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