March 1, 2015

AAA-Fund Fellow at Nate Shinagawa’s Campaign: Week 1

Editor’s Note: The below is Maya Ono’s post about her first week as an AAA-Fund sponsored fellow at Nate Shinagawa’s campaign. The AAA-Fund has endorsed Nate as a candidate for the US House of Representatives from NY’s 23rd district.”

Nata Shinagawa campaign office

October 1st was a sunny day in Westchester, NY. I analyzed the blue duffle bag and black rolling suitcase lying adjacent in the trunk of my silver sedan and wondered if I had forgotten anything. My right hand slammed the door shut, and kissed my mom and grandpa goodbye. “Call us from the road!” they waved.
Wind whipped my hair as I began the five-hour car ride north. As the trees turned from green to yellow to pumpkin orange, I couldn’t help but feel as though time was accelerating as I journeyed to Ithaca. The new crisp air crept into my bones, telling me that I was about to enter historic change.

I am a campaign finance fellow sent by the AAA-Fund to help Nate Shinagawa win his Congressional bid to represent the 23rd district of New York. “Be as honest as possible,” Nate smiled, when I told him about my weekly blog. His unassuming demeanor makes it easy to forget the historic nature of his campaign. If elected, Nate Shinagawa will be the first Asian American in Congress east of the Mississippi.

More important than his ethnicity, is what Nate stands for and who he is running against. His opponent, incumbent Tom Reed, is a self-proclaimed Tea Party member. (Enough said?)

As a graduate of the public education system, Nate knows first-hand the struggles of students and parents and believes that investing in education means investing in the future. He fought to preserve funding for the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance and with his experience as a hospital administrator, advocates for strengthening and expanding Medicare.

Why am I here? My grandfather’s second wife was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s and could only afford the help she needed because of “Obamacare”. My father was diagnosed with fourth-stage lung cancer when I was five years old, and now he can’t be turned away from insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition. My best friend’s mother is a breast cancer survivor – a survivor because the cancer was detected in time for treatment. A sickness in the family should not be turned into sparring points for democrats and republicans. Health is a right, not a debate.

In 2012, women across the nation are still fighting for equal pay. The children of our nation are still sitting in underfunded classrooms, learning from outdated textbooks, losing their music and art programs, and not graduating with the skills they need to be competitive in today’s global market.

I’m here because I believe in cutting through the political redirect because the issues that are talked about in Congress really do affect our everyday lives. Rather than memorizing talking points, let’s figure out the raw facts. Rather than just complaining about the polarization in Washington, let’s vote to demand that what we care about is what is acted on in Congress. Let’s vote for those we know will fight for us.

If you would like to donate to the committee to elect Nate Shinagawa, please visit the website at

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