By Andrea Aldana, The Patriot Ledger
Posted Dec 01, 2011 @ 07:44 AM
Last update Dec 01, 2011 @ 08:16 AM
BOSTON —Freshman state Rep. Tackey Chan of Quincy receives lots of emails and phone calls from his district every day.
Some, mostly from the Quincy’s Asian community, arrive via his mom, Siu Hay Chan.
“Those are always fun,” Chan said with a laugh.
Chan, along with Rep. Donald H. Wong, R-Saugus, made history on Nov. 2, 2010, by becoming the first Asian-Americans elected to the House. But Chan said a desire to represent the Asian voice was not his primary reason for seeking election.
“I truly just want to be an asset to the community and make sure everyone has as much access as they can to the government,” Chan said.
Chan attended Catholic schools, then went to Brandeis University. He commuted to school in three of his four years at Brandeis, while his mother worked nights at New England Medical Center, now Tufts Medical Center.
Chan’s mother was active in his campaign for the 2nd Norfolk District House seat last year – a seat that Stephen Tobin held for 22 years.
Chan, who is not Catholic, said he went to Catholic schools because his father, who died of colon cancer when Chan was 15, had attended parochial schools.
Chan said he learned the value of community service during those years.
“As I told the priest at St. Ann’s on the closing day, the best thing about St. Ann’s is that you were never reminded that you were different. You were allowed to be part of the group,” he said.
Though he is in his first year as a representative, Chan is no stranger to the State House. The Wollaston native was an intern for former state Rep. Michael Bellotti before graduating with a degree in politics from Brandeis. He then worked for former state Sen. Michael Morrissey for 12 years and as assistant attorney general for three years.
“(Morrissey) let me do a lot of different things,” Chan said. “I took constituent calls: tree problems, pothole problems, crosswalks, Medicare, Medicaid. You name it, I’ve taken a call on it, as well as worked on intricate policy matters.”
Morrissey, now Norfolk County’s district attorney, said Chan “was highly recommended by Michael (Bellotti) and really liked politics; that impressed me. And he was bilingual. We also had a growing Chinese population in Quincy, so it was a natural fit.”
Chan’s parents met in Hong Kong in the 1960s while in their 20s, but they immigrated to the U.S. individually. His mother is from Hong Kong and his father grew up in a small town in China.
Chan went to law school at night while working full time for Morrissey. At the same time, he was part of the Quincy Asian Collaborative, a group formed to assess the needs of the growing Asian population in Quincy.
The collaborative worked closely with local organizations such as the YMCA, and recognized that not enough services were being provided to the immigrant population, said John Brothers, executive director of Quincy Asian Resources Inc.
“Tackey was one of the key members of that group,” Brothers said.
Quincy Asian Resources Inc., established in 2001, was a product of three years of those collaborative meetings, Chan said. Chan was the founding board president for the first three years, then was treasurer.
Brothers worked with Chan in 2000 promoting participation in the U.S. Census.
“It was a typical example of Tackey’s commitment to the community and civic life,” Brothers said.
Brothers said Quincy will soon print ballots in Chinese – a direct result of the 2010 Census.
According to the federal 2010 Census, 24 percent of Quincy’s population is Asian. Fifteen percent is Chinese.
Chan likes to hear from his district, whether it’s through his mother or not. A favorite issue is children – their health and education. On one recent day he left an eight-hour hearing conducted by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy to attend a presentation on autism – an issue he considers important to his district because of the number of special-education students in Quincy.
“These issues cross racial and economic boundaries,” he said.
ADDRESS: 66 Meadowbrook Road, Quincy
OCCUPATION: State representative; member of Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change; private attorney
EDUCATION: Boston College High School, 1991; bachelor’s degree in politics, Brandeis University, 1995; law degree, Southern New England School of Law, 2003
MUNICIPAL EXPERIENCE: Former member, Quincy Board of Zoning Appeals; former chairman, Massachusetts Asian-American Commission
CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Board member, Work Inc.; founder and board member, Quincy Asian Resources Inc.; member, Montclair/Wollaston Neighborhood Association; member, Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library; former board member of Quincy Community Action Programs
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