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First non-citizen appointed to Election Commission in Calif. city

A view of one of California's most beloved coastal gems: the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
February 19, 2024

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors appointed the first non-citizen to the San Francisco Elections Commission last week. The non-citizen appointee will now be responsible for helping oversee and develop policies for San Francisco’s Department of Elections despite being currently ineligible to vote herself.

According to KQED, Kelly Wong, who is an outspoken advocate for immigrant rights, was sworn in last Wednesday at San Francisco City Hall by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. Wong is believed to be the city’s first non-citizen to become a member of the San Francisco Elections Commission.

KQED reported that Wong immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in 2019 for graduate studies. Wong told KQED that she hoped her appointment to the Elections Commission would inspire other non-citizens in San Francisco.

“There are always voices inside my head. Like, ‘You can’t do it. You’re not competent. You’re an immigrant. This is not your country.’ That’s not true,” Wong said. “If I can do it, you can do it.”

According to KQED, Wong’s appointment was made possible after voters approved a measure in 2020 that removed citizenship requirements for individuals who serve on commissions, boards, and advisory bodies in San Francisco. The outlet noted that each of the seven members of the San Francisco Elections Commission is appointed by a different city official and that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Wong’s appointment.

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San Francisco Election Commission President Robin Stone previously told Fox News that he supported the “Board of Supervisors’ authority and decision” to appoint a non-citizen to the city’s Elections Commission.

He added, “What’s more, as public officers of the City, we respect the law and will of San Francisco voters, who removed the citizenship requirement for commissioners in 2020.”

Vincent Pan, Chinese for Affirmative Action’s co-executive director, told KQED that he hopes Wong’s appointment to the Elections Commission pushes people to “go beyond” what he described as “the bare minimum” of getting “everyone fully involved” in the community.

“I’m hoping there will be a day where it won’t be as newsworthy that you have someone who’s an immigrant and a non-citizen involved in helping make the city run better, especially in a city where such a large percentage of the community is immigrants,” Pan added.