Here’s why Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval is at the White House

Pureval swept into office last November as the city’s first mayor of Asian American descent.
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval will be in Washington, DC two days this week for events celebrating the heritage of Asian Americans.

The White House invited Pureval to the White House Tuesday for a reception hosted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

He will be back in DC on Friday speaking at the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Rally alongside Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. He will then be announced as one of the AAPI Next Gen Political Leader honorees for 2022.

Pureval, 39, is the son of a Tibetan mother and Indian father. He became Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor when he was elected in November 2021. In his acceptance speech, he spoke about his parents coming to the U.S. as refugees in search of better lives for him and his brother.

“Because of that incredible decision, my family went from refugees to now the next mayor of Cincinnati,” Aftab said. “Folks, that story only happens here in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a place where no matter what you look like, where you’re from, or how much money you have if you come here and work hard, you can achieve your dreams. I achieved mine.”

The AAPI Victory Fund, a Super PAC that mobilizes Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and candidates, endorsed Pureval.

“This is now a newfound path for AAPIs to engage in public service,” Varun Nikore, AAPI Victory Fund president told AP last November. “I think it’s going to be a beacon for those who wanna run for local office.”

AAPI people are the country’s fastest-growing demographic but also the most underrepresented group in US politics. They account for more than 6.1% of the population but comprise just 0.9% of US elected leader, according to research from the Reflective Democracy Campaign.

“If your community is well represented, then you create a legitimate pipeline pathway for public service whether it be political office, whether it be appointed office, whether it be just appointing more AAPIs on boards and commissions,” Nikore told AP. “By being proactive at those levels, it really is this ripple effect that lasts — in some cases — decades.”

The problem of of anti-Asian violence is similarly pronounced, according to the Biden Administration, which notes crimes against those in the AA and NHPI demographic rose 339% in 2021 compared to a year prior.

“Many other incidents of anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, and harassment that surfaced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were not even reported,” Biden said in the heritage month proclamation. “We cannot allow these horrific acts to continue threatening the safety of AA and NHPI Americans — especially women, girls, and the elderly. These acts are wrong; they are un-American; and they must stop.”

The president’s announced in that proclamation investments in AA and NHPI communities including increased access to capital, training and counseling for entrepreneurs and increased access to healthcare resources.

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