Benny Lee Becomes San Leandro’s First Asian American Councilmember

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 | San Leandro’s demographics of a generation ago is a well-known secret. In 1970, 99.9 percent of the East Bay city was white. Times have changed when it comes to its City Council, which has integrated both women and certain minority groups since, except in one glaring category. On Tuesday, Benny Lee became the first Asian American council member in San Leandro history. The result makes room on the council for a member of the city’s largest minority group and a chance to keep up with the changing times.

“It almost feels like a Jackie Robinson experience,” Lee said Thursday. “A lot of other cities have already done it; we’re the last to do it.” The shift from government by white men-only is not only a national reality, but also a local one in the East Bay. In nearby, Alameda, its new City Council next year will feature three Asian Americans among its five-person council. In Oakland, change on its City Council is flowing in reverse. Dan Kalb’s election to the seat in District 1 represents the return of a white male to the body in a decade.

The makeup of the next council in San Leandro will likely contain three white males, one African American, two white women and one Asian American male. However, it will still be searching for its first Latino—another large, under served voting bloc in San Leandro.

Lee said, while Asian Americans in the city were indeed energized to attain a voice on the City Council, he praised his campaign’s strategy for reaching out to voters. “Our ground game made a huge difference,” Lee said. The game plan from the start was to reach out to voters in the city’s more conservative Broadmoor area, said Lee. “Voters in Washington Manor were familiar with me,” he said,” but in other areas they didn’t know who I was.”

Just as San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy was attempting to push through three preferred candidates to stack the council in his favor, including opposition to two sitting colleagues, Lee said the strategy was to pick off voters in Cassidy’s District 5 stronghold, while also teaming with District 2 candidate Councilwoman Ursula Reed. The move appears to have worked on two fronts. Not only winning a seat for Lee, but possibly gaining the endearing gratitude of Reed, who appears likely to stave off an upset in her race against Morgan Mack-Rose.

In hindsight, the once-believed tight race in District 4 turned into a laugher with Lee winning nearly 60 percent of the vote over Chris Crow, after ranked-choice votes were tabulated. His clear victory was buoyed further by the fact Lee didn’t even need the support of his preferred second-choice candidate Justin Hutchison, who finished fourth with 10 percent. Hutchison’s second-place votes didn’t even favor Lee in the end.

Categories: Alameda, asians, Benny Lee, Chris Crow, Dan Kalb, Morgan Mack-Rose, Oakland, RCV, san leandro, SLD4, Stephen Cassidy, Ursula Reed, Washington Manor

13 replies

  1. Will Bennie Lee solve the financial problems of the city by selling hot dogs as he mentioned on a forum? Will business leave because of a unfriendly to business council person? Is Benny Lee a IT specialist or a financial analyst?

    I wonder if Halus was owned by asians if the same road blocks to keep it out would exist?
    In voting for Lee,Reed, we have now open the door for a police city, where the police leadership will try to write new laws to curtail the freedom of the citizens and people like Lee, Reed, Souza, will only follow the direction of the cops!!
    Shame on you for not being prepared at the meetings,shame on you for not being leaders,only followers…, for not doing whats best for the city, and in some cases not even helping people in your district !

    With in 24hrs I stopping blogging here — I'll be blogging specifically on what you do while you warm up the chairs at city hall, what decisions you make what questions you ask. Please try not to embarrass our city with your bias or lack knowledge.



  2. KS = Couples of Sore Losers!


  3. Calling the Broadmoor “conservative” is another example of Tavares showing he knows nothing about San Leandro. It's the most liberal district in the city. While Lee becomes the city's first Asian American council member, he is not the first Asian American elected to office in the city. Ken Pon, Dennis Chin & Hermy Almonte were school board members.


  4. Congratulation! Benny Lee Becomes San Leandro’s First Asian American Councilmember!

    Very proud of Ken Pon, Dennis Chin & Hermy Almonte as well!

    To all, job well done!


  5. Congratulations Benny Lee! I liked how you represented the homeowners in your area by not putting business owners first. This was one of many reasons why I voted for you.

    Please do the same for your constituents and stay strong and not be bullied when working with Cassidy. Continue to be a leader not a follower and you'll be GREAT!


  6. Been to Heron Bay Board Meetings, saw how Benny Lee handles his meetings with fairness, respect, and willing to listen.

    To Bully Benny Lee is a “Big Mistake”!


  7. what business did he put first???? LOL what a joke!!


  8. Unemployed lazy candidates are such a joke, LOL!


  9. Benny is great guy and will be excellent for the city! I am very happy to have met him and now to have him represent my family!

    To all of you above haters, keep eatin those sour grapes because you got smoked in this election:-)


  10. The results of vote counts revealled loud and clear, majority voted for Benny Lee, Congradulation!


  11. 1156 stop brown nosing to lee …


  12. SLTalk FB has bigger brown nose…temporary change to a nice person…phony.


  13. 1:02 Please do not create personal attacks here again, YOU MISSY & your people have been writing personal comments attacking yourselves, creating reasons to write on your blogs to cry being victimized then accusing others, while no one is really attacking you! Stop social engineering!


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