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Nearly 100,000 Asians lived in Houston when Martha Jee Wong became the first Asian American ever elected to Houston City Council in 1993.

Her knack caught the eye of the city’s robust Asian American community and in 1989, Wong helped form the Asian American Coalition, an entity that aimed to let political candidates know about concerns among the Asian American community.

“We said, ‘Well, we should run an Asian, rather than asking people to be concerned about Asian problems and concerns in the city,’” Wong says now.

“I filed the last day you could file, and that’s how I got into politics.”The Asian American community coalesced around her.

“It energized the Asian American community to have someone running in politics,” Wong says.

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