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Lily Mei for California State Senate

Lily Mei the current mayor for Fremont CA is running for California State Senate on November 22, 2022. Learn about her goals, qualifications, and track record for a future seat in the California legislature.

Illustrated by Melody Zhang

By Emma Lin and Benjamin Qiao
 

Introduction:


Lily Mei is the current Fremont mayor, whose term is set to expire on December 10, 2024. She is the first elected woman and Asian American mayor in Fremont’s history. Recently, she has formally announced her candidacy for the California State Senate in the 2022 election. As a senator, she intends to continue addressing problems she has focused on in her mayoral term, but on a statewide scale.


As a mayor, she is part of a municipal government, a type of local government, which are generally organized around a population center and focus on issues specific to that population center. These issues involve taking responsibility for things such as parks and recreational services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, transportation services, and public works (streets, sewage, snow removal, etc.).


Comparatively, the California State Senate, alongside the California State Assembly, make up the legislative branch of the California state government. The state government, as its name implies, has the authority to make laws that apply to its respective state. The legislative branch of the state government establishes the state budget, alters taxes, passes bills, and creates laws. The branch also has the ability to reject or uphold laws passed by the governor.

 

Goals:


As a possible member of the State Senate, Mei has expressed five main priorities she will focus on. These are the same priorities that she has already improved in Fremont.


One is reducing homelessness and providing the homeless with housing, food, job placements, and mental health services. As the mayor of Fremont, she established a Homeless Navigation Center that had a reported 66% success rate at housing people who were previously homeless in its first year.


The second goal is increasing affordable housing and jobs. Mei intends to address high home prices and reduce income inequality.


Third, she intends to strengthen wildfire preparedness and address climate change, and promises to fund year-round investment in wildfire prevention, forest, and vegetation management.


Fourth, she plans on addressing social justice, equity, and representation, standing up for immigrants, minorities, and LGBTQ rights, and supporting the pro-choice stance on abortion.


Finally, she has a goal to improve the public school system, promising to fund pre-K for low-income students, implement programs that reduce dropout rates, and provide free colleges.

 

Experience:


Mei has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, alongside majors in marketing and international business from Drexel University. Her career experience includes working in marketing analysis, product and channel management, sales operations, and serving as the Executive Director of the Alliance for Gray Market & Counterfeit Abatement (a non-profit organization that works to raise awareness on counterfeiting, digital IP protection, service and warranty abuse, and the gray market). These experiences ensure that she has expertise in the budgeting and funding necessary to make efficient use of her resources and follow through on her promises.


Prior to becoming mayor of Fremont, Mei was elected twice as a trustee on the Fremont Unified School Board from December 2008 to December 2014. Regionally, for education, she served two terms as a Delegate Assembly member representing Alameda and Contra Costa counties’ school districts, and statewide, she is a past president of the Asian Pacific Islander School Board Members Association. These qualifications give her insight into the current state of education in California and the necessary experience to understand how to improve the school system.


Mei was elected as mayor of Fremont and assumed office on December 13, 2016. As mayor, she represents the city of Fremont on the state, national, and international levels. She also appoints members to the city’s advisory board, with council approval.


Mei has attained a number of awards and accomplishments for Fremont. When she was elected to the Fremont Unified School District Board, they were recognized for having one award winning high school. When she was later elected to the Fremont City Council, all five Fremont High Schools were in the U.S. News and World Report’s Most Distinguished School list. In addition to this, Fremont has won other awards under her leadership, including:

  • Winner, National Safe Routes to School Award

  • Recognized Global Leader on Environment Action

  • Recognized Bicycle Friendly Community

  • #1 In the Nation for “Happiest City”

  • Ranked top “Most Inclusive City”

  • Top Two Best Places to Work (for mid-sized organizations)

  • #7 Greenest Community in America

 

Opposition:


Lily Mei was deemed anti-LGBTQIA+ by the Democratic party in Alameda County. Eleven years ago, she had voted against a resolution to declare May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, in honor of Harvey Milk, the first LGBTQ person to be elected to public office in California. She was also accused of being anti-LGBTQIA+ for voting against the inclusion of several books written by queer authors on an AP English curriculum when she was on the Fremont school board, as well as for not issuing a public apology for her votes or the harm they caused for LGBTQ+ students and others in the community.


Speaking in her own defense, Mei stated that she has since changed her mindset pointing to how, as mayor, she had routinely proclaimed June as Pride Month, raised the rainbow flag at Fremont City Hall, and appointed LGBTQ people to important city positions such as city manager and police chief. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community such as Lance Kwan and Melissa Shuen-Mallory criticize Mei, while others such as Gabe Quinto support her.



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