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FACE Getting Out the Filipino Vote

Created: 14 May, 2010
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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4 min read

FACE president Mitz Lee (right) with Assemblywoman Mary Salas

    Mitz Lee is a community activist times two.

    When we first met Ms. Lee it was at a local community park in Mira Mesa where members of the community had come together to voice their concern about the direction that the city schools had taken. It was during the first year of the Alan Bersin regime and she wasn’t happy with the new focus that Bersin brought to the district. She and other concerned parents gathered with her, wanting their voice heard. So there they were on a sunny weekday morning addressing the media and talking about the three R’s of education.

    Education has always been the primary motivator for Mitz. She and her husband, Jeff Lee, founded the Alliance for Quality Education.

    While education was the motivator, Mitz knew that it would have to be through politics for any real change to occur. This led Mitz to run for school board and with a grassroots campaign she was elected to the San Diego Unified School Board where she would have a profound effect.

    Mitz Lee was defeated in her re-election campaign but instead of going away quietly she continues to stay involved politically and has found a new cause that she finds as equally important and still fits with her goal of creating change through politics.

    Mitz’s role now is that of president for the Filipino American Community Empowerment (FACE), a political action committee that was created to empower the Filipino American community, with a concerted effort to register and educate Filipino voters in Chula Vista.

    “We are focused on political empowerment and change through the political process to bring our Filipino Americans into the political process. At the same time increase voter registration, educating on the issues, and voting,” detailed Ms. Lee. “We want to create alliances, build coalitions with others, and making politicians accountable.”

    For Mitz Lee and her group the way to hold politicians accountable is through the ballot box. For FACE and Mitz Lee while the total number of Filipinos in San Diego is commendable they need to increase the number of registered voters.

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    “We are very, very focused on the get out the vote campaign,” Lee stated. The number of Filipinos in San Diego varies a bit but it is between 250-300 thousand Filipino-Americans that live in San Diego. But among this number, how many are registered voters? That is where we are focused.”

    Figuring out who is Filipino gets a little tricky. Many Filipino surnames sound the same as many Hispanic names, such as Reyes and Bautista for example, which makes it difficult to go through the register of voters polls and determine nationality much less the voter registration of Filipinos.

    To simplify matters a bit, Mitz Lee said “let’s take a look at the origin of birth to determine the actual number of Filipino voters in San Diego County.”

    “Those are big numbers (300,000 Filipinos living in San Diego), but my question is how many of those are registered voters, among those how many are voting?” asked Mitz. “This is where we are focusing.”

    “We got the files from the register of voters to begin working on the core number of Filipino voters, and looked at the country of birth, and from there we can look at those as  the core number of voters, as the hard numbers,” continued Mitz.

    What they came up with is that there are 30,390 voters in San Diego County who indicated that they were born in the Philippines.

    “The focus now, for FACE, is to instill the importance of each vote and remind the community that in a close race the Filipino vote can make the difference in electing their next representative,” stated Ms. Lee.

    “Now and days Ms Lee is still talking the three R’s – just time they now are Respect, Responsibility, and Register. Politicians need to Respect the community and the promises they make, we need to hold them accountable. It is our Responsibility to be involved. And we need to Register to vote,” stated Ms Lee.

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   Mitz Lee and FACE are using the June 8 elections as a catalyst for their Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign, “FilAmVote 2010” with particular focus on the South Bay communities of Chula Vista and National City, as well as Mira Mesa where the largest number if Filipinos live.

   Leading the get-out-the-vote effort in Chula Vista is Jay Montenegro where he will be organizing several get out the vote efforts over the next several weeks.

   On June 12 FACE will be holding their First Annual “Spirit of Freedom Dinner Gala in celebration of Philippine Independence at the Town and Country Resort in Mission Valley. For more information visit their web site at:

 

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