I was born in Vietnam, raised by a mom who took her four kids and left a dangerous Vietnam when I was six years old. My family fled to the refugee camps in the Philippines. It was no relief: I remember the barbed wired fences, the dogs barking at night, and the guardsmen’s cruel actions towards refugees. We felt trapped and scared. Our family often had to subsist on two and a half pounds of rice a week. Our prayers were answered when we received sponsorship from a wonderful church, civic and charitable organizations in the Seattle area.

Their kindness and generousity are a part of my drive to help others and help everyone to have the chance to be their best. I have known cold, hunger, discrimination, loneliness and embarrassment. But I have also known compassion, family and community loyalty and faith.

I understand being poor, but proud.

I’m a lifelong optimist and believer in people. I learned that working hard, always being humble and thrifty, and making a difference so someone else can know a good life: that’s my core reason to be here.

I am running for Renton City Council – I’ve officially filed – and hereby give you fair warning that I’ll be on your doorsteps campaigning for your vote before you know it.

I am running for Renton City Council because I want to make every one of our neighborhoods safe – Renton is in the burglary belt – this dreadful list of home break-ins, car prowlers, and people afraid of looking at those passing them when walking on our neighborhood streets. I have always felt safe in our Renton Community. Everyone should feel safe living in Renton regardless of their zip code, immigration status, religion, gender/sexual orientation, age, and ability to speak English.

I am running to make sure this Renton Hub of Commerce does not forget our small mom & pop shops. They are the driving force of our local economies, most of our families’ livelihoods, and the anchors for our neighbors. On the council, I will work on policies to lessen the burden for small businesses – and also help spotlight them.

I am running to bring neighborly inclusion to every neighborhood. Everyone who lives here is a member of our Renton Community. I will work hard to make sure our policies and ordinances reflect our diverse population. I have been impressed with the efforts our Mayor Denis Law has put into the Inclusion Task Force. As one of its appointed members, I  have been a part of making diversity not just something we have to accept because it’s the law, but because it makes all our lives better.

My Vietnamese community brings more to the table than phở noodle soups and bánh mì sandwiches: we bring this drive to do our part, to take care of the kids, to pay it forward.

My style and culture is not to demand either more services or other benefits if I am not willing to dig in and be part of the solution myself. This means watching out for our neighbors if unfamiliar people are looking suspiciously into homes and cars. Check out the Renton Police Departments’ Security Camera Program: you can register your home security with them so if a crime happens, there may be video to catch the thieves.

We are “Becoming Renton”; we are not done yet, though you see more prosperity all around you. We all have a duty to bring out the best of ourselves in making Renton a great place to live.

There is a respect and pride I enjoy in being from Renton – I see the struggle so many of us from all cultures have had to endure to get here.

Just as I used to be a “marginalized kid”, I always resented that Renton used to be a “marginalized place”. In many ways, just as I have become Renton, Renton is Becoming what every family deserves: to be happy, healthy, and safe.

As your Renton City Council member, I will work every day to pay that forward.

I’m Kim-Khanh Van and I’d appreciate your support and your vote!