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  • Chyanne Chen

The Ingleside Light: Q&A: Chyanne Chen On Her District 11 Supervisor Campaign

If elected in November, Chen would focus on community safety and cross-generational support programs.

MARCH 27 2024 6:57 PM

Chyanne Chen is the newest District 11 resident to throw their name in to run for supervisor joining EJ Jones, Roger Marenco and Adlah Chisti.

The Chinese immigrant and mother of two has spent the last 23 years being an advocate and educator. She started her career working with youth programs in Chinatown like the Community Youth Center, Charity Cultural Services Center and with the Chinese Progressive Association and PODER’s Common Roots program.

Chen is a labor union organizer and has worked as a coordinator for the Service Employee International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.

“The time that I started as a youth organizer, cleaning streets, cleaning graffiti, picking up trash on the street taught me a lot about being a responsible participant of the community and also having agency of receiving and now giving back to the community,” Chen said.

Chen, who lives in Mission Terrace, is running her campaign on a platform of community safety and providing cross-generational support to district residents.

“District 11 is not alone,” Chen said. “Let’s continue to really share love and care and work together to bring back a neighborhood where we all celebrate diversity and celebrate inclusivity. I want to see a safe and happy community.”

The Ingleside Light caught up with Chen to discuss her plans for office, if elected.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

What inspired you to run for supervisor?

This is a land that gave me lots of opportunities I’m grateful for. I realized in many dreams, including my academic dreams, that I can become a doctoral degree student. I was never able to imagine when I was in China, in a small village town, that dreams came true.

I’ve been encouraged by the community, nonprofit leaders and former elected leaders who think now we do need a person who is willing to actually roll up their sleeves and do work. Who’s willing to work very hard and is very dedicated to investing in the community and in the city. I think my strength is unifying people and trying to find mutual interests and work together with everyone.

What is one issue in District 11 that you see that’s not being addressed?

My number one priority is safety. As a mom, I can’t tell you how much I worry about gun violence and how much I worry about mental health problems getting into younger kids. To me, it’s really essential because that’s the next generation. I want them to have a safe environment, including all those preventions like a healthy mental, spiritual and physical space in general.

Many people might not feel inspired by the city and by America and this is not a land where people feel like we have a safe environment, that we feel like we can go out and walk. This is even more tremendous. I have met many elders who are still not feeling comfortable and safe going out of their own houses by themselves. It's not just a District 11 problem. It's citywide. It's people who I think live in the safest place on earth. They still have that feeling.

How would you fix that problem?

With community safety, it’s definitely not a short-term program. Community safety is so complicated and sophisticated. It’s not one piece. It’s not one part of an agency of the government that can do it all. It requires departments and city officials to work together with good policy, good prevention programs, good diversion programs, good education and increasing the number of first responders. It’s all closely linked together. 

We are lacking public health staff members, so making sure that we have a system in place where we can continue to retain and recruit important people who serve the city is one part. At the same time, we need to hold people accountable and make sure we do have programs to prevent things from repeatedly happening again including investing in youth, investing in people who are willing to be reinvested in and getting them resources.

It’s another way I felt really safe in my neighborhood. It's people on the same block knowing each other. They can call you by name. They watch out for you. Having a tight neighborhood actually strengthens the neighborhood.

How has your experience in District 11 shaped your campaign and how you will lead as a supervisor?

I am actually very grateful. I’ve met with many residents in District 11 and they’re super excited. If I'm elected supervisor, I'm very committed to continuing to listen. This district might have about 15%-20% of people who are not able to speak English but a lot of them may be monolingual Spanish, monolingual Chinese and other languages. Because I'm bilingual in Chinese I feel like I can close the gap and help those people who are less vocal about their needs. I want to inspire the community to feel more comfortable and confident to go to City Hall with me and tell me that this is what we need. To me, it's really about building all this infrastructure, building a kind of community where we are holding hands to do it together.

Why should people vote for you?

I live here. I’m not moving anywhere. This is my home. This is my community. I have my kids here. I have my family here. I’m a property owner. I qualify. My heart is committed to not just good work but hard, difficult work because the next couple of years it's going to be a budget deficit. It’s not easy work. I am dedicated. I have the experience of navigating different challenges. I am really committed to working with different people and different stakeholders — even people who disagree with me. I am willing to work with everybody. It's what we need.

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