Two Chinese-American reps sworn in

Updated: 2015-01-15 12:29

By Hua Shengdun in Annapolis(China Daily USA)

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Two Chinese-American reps sworn in

Clarence Lam (left), newly-elected Chinese-American delegate in Maryland, stands at his seat in the chamber of the Maryland House before the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday. Susan Lee, the only Chinese-American state senator in Maryland, takes the oath in Annapolis. Cai Chunying / China Daily

Chinese Americans took two seats in Maryland's new legislative session.

Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Clarence Lam, two Democrats, were sworn in to four-year terms in the state's 435th general assembly Wednesday afternoon in Maryland's State House in Annapolis.

On the first day of its 90-day legislative session, more than 40 percent of delegates taking the oath of office were new, including a quarter of the Senate. It broke a 20-year record for the number of freshman members.

Senator Susan Lee, the first Asian American to serve in the state senate and the first minority to be elected to the Montgomery County delegation, said she still felt excited even though she has already served for 12 years as a delegate.

"It's such an honor to be able to serve in the senate and to build on my track record and do even more for my community," Susan Lee told China Daily.

One of 47 senators, Lee said she looked forward to working with the State's new governor Larry Hogan in crucial issues such as education, environmental protection, Social Security and gun safety.

Governor-elect Larry Hogan, a Republican who won the 2014 election by 51 percent of the vote, is scheduled to be inaugurated next week.

"I will continue my work in cyber security and promoting tele-health, particularly for minority communities and also some bills dealing with human trafficking," said Lee.

She added that working in a coalition was necessary to overcome resistance.

"We have common challenges and needs," Lee said. "It's good to work together."

"I think she will be a great senator," Susan Lee's mother Mee Yee Lee told China Daily. "I've always known that Susan would go into politics, ever since she graduated from college and announced she wanted to go to law school. I'm so proud of her."

Susan Lee got her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1982, after undergraduate study in political science at the University of Maryland.

More than 30 of Lee's friends and relatives attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Clarence Lam, a second-generation Chinese American, said he felt delighted being one of 57 freshmen among 141 delegates.

"I'm looking forward to being able to serve the people of Maryland," Lam said. "We are trying to keep an open mind, as there are a lot of new legislators coming into the general assembly. We will work together to help better the State of Maryland."

In the general election last November, Lam got about 20,000 votes from District 12.

When asked about his possible first major move, Lam said it might be in health care.

"We have a few health care bills that we would like to get through," said Lam, a board-certified physician in preventive medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. "It's also important for the legislature to have people with science, health care and medical backgrounds."

One of four physicians in the chamber, Lam earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland and a master's in public health from the Johns Hopkins University.

He later served on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, Asian-American & Pacific Islander Diversity Leadership Council of Marry Democratic Party, and the state's Commission on Asian American Affairs.

About 8 percent of the population in his district is Asian American compared to 2 percent in the state's legislative body. "As one of the Asian minorities, I will listen to and speak for them," said Lam.

Sheng Yang contributed to this story.