It is time for this young, proactive leader to represent Filipinos in public office, said the endorsing Fil-Am leaders here.
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – For Filipinos in NYC, Steven Raga is a household name. He has been visible and reachable when FilAm communities gather for socio-cultural and political events. He has stood for social issues that were meaningful for young leaders, women, workers, entrepreneurs, and immigrants.
Today February 21, 2021, Raga officially launched online his candidacy for a councilor seat in Queens where the majority of Filipinos live in NYC – a decision warmly applauded by the FilAm community. He will represent Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, and parts of Astoria, in a contest with 19 other candidates for District 26. The Democratic primaries is set for June 22, 2021.
Amb. Mario de Leon, a Woodside resident and former Philippine Consul General to NY, said that “Steven is well-prepared. It is time for him to lead and the community to elect a Filipino official in New York.”
Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Filipino philanthropist, lawyer, and businesswoman, endorsed Raga’s candidacy by saying that he is a “competent and credible leader.” She put in the action words for Filipinos: donate and volunteer for Filipino representation in public office.
Potri Ranka Manis, a nurse, said she has known Raga since he was a student and have commended him for campaigning for Philippine nurses of the Sentosa home care facility who fought for labor and human trafficking issues. She also cited Raga’s involvement in opposing the construction of a mega church that would have dislocated local businesses and residents in Woodside. “We need young and proactive leaders.”
As they spoke, the online chat room was filled with felicitations and encouragement from friends, family, and local leaders.
Raga is 36 years old and currently works as the Northeast Regional Manager for Policy & Advocacy for the Susan G. Komen Foundation where he oversees healthcare legislation in 11 states. His four years of service as chief of staff to Assemblyman Brian Barnwell could give him an edge over other position seekers because of his exposure to communities.
He was earlier quoted as saying in local news that the spate of hate crimes against Asians in the US have pushed him to finally decide to run for office.
Raga is a NY State Advisory Committee Member for the US Federal Commission on Civil Rights appointed under President Obama. His committee has produced reports on policing, education, and prison reform.
He said during his official launch that he will work for an equitable environment for everyone in NYC, especially frontline workers and small businesses which is the life blood of the city. As he sought for support, Raga said, “our roots are not individually strong, but if we grow together, our roots can become strong.”
Raga currently sits on the boards of Woodside on the Move, Queens Pride, and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). He previously served as Senior Strategist for Multicultural Leadership at AARP.
He is a member of the Queens Community Board 2 since 2016 and currently Jay Kriegel Fellow for Public Service Leadership at the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance
In 2009, he founded the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) in Woodside where he resides. He is also enrolled in a dual-degree program between Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.
Nicolas-Lewis said that 2021 is an election watershed for Filipinos. “If we are united, then we have finally arrived.”#