Suely Saro, Long Beach’s first Cambodian American council member, is ready for this moment
Saro, whose family and community have survived tragedy, has made advocating for others her life's work. Now, she's set to continue that work behind the City Council dais.
By Hayley Munguia | [email protected]
| Long Beach Press-Telegram
PUBLISHED: December 12, 2020 at 9:28 a.m. | UPDATED: December 12, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.
When Suely Saro was a kid, the path of her life seemed predetermined.
As an elementary schooler, she would sit alongside her parents and grandmother in sweatshops in Downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District, cutting loose threads and bagging clothes. Later, she saw her father work odd jobs until he became a delivery driver.
Her parents, recent immigrants from Cambodia, worked hard to make a life in the United States for Saro and her three brothers. That life was all she knew.
And it was around that time when a school exercise posed the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
“I had no concept of what professions existed,” Saro said in an interview. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? I’m going to do what I see as the highest level that my parents always say, which is to own your own business, to run a store, to run your own store.’”
For Saro, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her parents fled genocide in Cambodia, running for office one day seemed far beyond the realm of possibility — as was making history.
But Saro, 40, is set to assume office as a Long Beach City Council member on Tuesday, Dec. 15, after winning the Nov. 3 election to represent the city’s Sixth District.
Despite Long Beach having the largest concentration of Cambodians outside of the country itself, there has never been a City Council member of Cambodian descent — until now.
“It’s so deep in the sense that, beyond just making history,” Saro said, “I feel like I’m giving a voice to a community who has not felt like they’ve been heard and represented in an official capacity.”
https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/12/1 ... is-moment/