California State Treasurer John Chiang (江俊輝), who recently announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for the state’s 2018 gubernatorial election, says one of his Taiwanese grandfathers inspired him to become a lawyer and enter public service.
Chiang was born in 1962 in New York, after his parents — both from Taiwan — met in the US and married.
In an interview Central News Agency, he said that when he was six or seven, he visited Taiwan to see his grandparents.
“My grandfather was an attorney and he was also in public service and he helped people in the community,” Chiang said. “I was very, very fascinated by what he was doing to help other people.”
After that trip, Chiang decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become an attorney, although his parents had hoped he would become a doctor.
As the oldest child in his family, Chiang felt he was obliged to protect his younger brothers and sister, he said. This sense of mission and justice was the drive for him to enter public service.
His family later moved to Chicago, where he grew up in the suburbs, where his family faced some racial discrimination, he said.
Their mail box and garage would be defaced with racist words and he sometimes had to engage in fistfights against others just to protect his siblings, he said.
These experiences showed him that “it’s very important to have all voices be part of the decision-making process that creates better communities, that creates better states, that creates a better country,” he said.
One of the good things about the US is that “you get the opportunity to change the laws to try to improve society,” said Chiang, who in 2014 was elected as California’s 33rd state treasurer after having served as state controller.
To be nominated as the Democratic Party candidate in the governor’s election, Chiang has to win the Democratic primary. Other politicians who have said they are interested in the race include former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former state controller Steve Westly.
Speaking of the characteristics of a good leader, Chiang said a good political leader should be responsible and careful, and should talk to experts in the field, as well as those impacted by a certain policy.
“So I would like to be thoughtful and also inclusive about the way I make decisions,” he said.
Chiang said he has good memories of his visit to Taiwan, such as the delicious food.
There are also a growing number of Taiwanese immigrants in California, who are “making extraordinary, profound and important contributions to California and the US,” he said.
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