ATLANTA — Georgia's General Assembly is making history with its first-ever caucus dedicated to one of the state's fastest-growing populations.
Lawmakers announced Monday they have formally created the Georgia Legislative Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus. The bipartisan caucus will be made up of members from Georgia's House and Senate and will work to increase AAPI representation at all levels of government and address issues that impact the communities.
“As the first Asian American Democrat elected to the Georgia State Legislature, I am so proud to see our diverse AAPI communities continue to grow and exercise their right to vote to determine our shared future,” said State Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville). “I look forward to serving in the largest AAPI legislative caucus in the nation." Park currently serves as the House Minority Caucus Whip.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people who identify with Georgia's AAPI community now make up more than 4% of the state population, which amounts to around 430,000 people.
“One thing we’ve heard from many Asian Americans is a dismaying sense of invisibility,” said state senator and caucus founding member Michelle Au (D-Johns Creek). “That our communities, our concerns, the issues we care about most, are often not seen, not heard and not addressed. But times are changing as is the face of Georgia, and this is represented in the historic representation we now see of AAPI lawmakers at the State Capitol. And, as a caucus, we look forward not just to representing the AAPI community, but to help build larger coalitions to ensure that the voices and issues at the Capitol fully represent our diverse electorate.”
The creation of the caucus comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for AAPI women voted into Georgia's electorate. Rep.-elect Ruwa Romman will become the first Muslim woman serving in Georgia's House and the first Palestinian elected to state office. Nabilah Islam also made history with her Senate win, becoming the first-ever woman and the youngest woman to be elected to Georgia's Senate.
The caucus includes 12 founding members and will have 11 voting members for the 2023 legislative session. Former State Rep. BJay Pak and former State Sen. Zahra Karinshak will serve as emeritus members of the caucus, according to a new release.
Founding members of Georgia's Legislative AAPI Caucus:
- Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock)
- Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta)
- Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville)
- Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross)
- Rep.-elect Saira Draper (D-Atlanta)
- Rep.-elect Soo Hong (R-Lawrenceville)
- Rep.-elect Farooq Mughal (D-Buford)
- Rep.-elect Ruwa Romman (D-Peachtree Corners)
- Rep.-elect Long Tran (D-Dunwoody)
- Sen. Michelle Au (D-Johns Creek)
- Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville)
- Sen.-elect Nabilah Islam (D-Lawrenceville)
“The AAPI community in Georgia is an asset that significantly contributes to the state's economic growth and prosperity through paying taxes, creating jobs and launching small businesses," Rep.-elect Farooq Mughal said in a news release.
Georgia is also one of 33 states with membership to the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.
The Georgia Legislative AAPI Caucus will formally convene in the new legislative session when it begins next year on Jan. 9.