Thursday 26 February 2009

President Obama Nominates Chinese-American as Secretary of Commerce

Read here and here and here and here

President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, a Chinese-American, as the Secretary of Commerce.

Gary Locke's grandfather is a immigrant from China.Mr Locke was the first ever Chinese-American to serve as a state governor in the US.

Gary Locke would be the THIRD Asian-American in Mr. Obama's Cabinet, along with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

President Obama said:

"Gary will be a trusted voice in my cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness, and an influential ambassador for American industry who will help us do everything we can – especially now – to promote it around the world.

Gary knows the American dream. He's lived it. And that's why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in our time."

As the commerce secretary, Locke will head an agency that oversees everything from international trade to the National Weather Service and from the census to fisheries.

He'll also be part of the administration's economic team.

President Obama noted that Locke's grandfather left China more than 100 years ago on a steamship bound for America, where he had no family. He worked as a houseboy for a family in exchange for English lessons. The family lived less than a mile from the governor's mansion in Olympia, where Locke and his family later lived.

Locke told Obama in accepting the nomination:

"My grandfather came from China as a teenager and worked for a family as a houseboy in exchange for English lessons - just one mile from the Governor's Mansion.

It took our family 100 years to move that one mile, a journey possible only in America.

My family's story is America's story."

Locke has a long history of public service. He was a deputy criminal prosecutor in King County, Washington State, from 1976 to 1980 and served in the Washington state legislature for 11 years. He was elected governor in 1997 and served two terms.

In Washington State, Gary Locke has a reputation as a policy wonk and a strong manager. Denny Heck, a longtime friend of Locke's from the state legislature, says Locke also brings a squeaky-clean reputation.

Locke has significant experience working with business and trade issues. As governor, he oversaw a state with a diverse economy that included corporate giants Boeing and Microsoft.

As governor of Washington from 1997 until 2005, he embarked on eight trade missions to China and Taiwan. He even established a trade representative in Guangzhou, a booming provincial capital in southern China. Since leaving office, Mr Locke has retained close ties with China.

He is currently a partner at a law firm, specialising in China, energy and governmental relations practice. China is a major focus in his law practice, and he was instrumental in bringing Chinese President Hu Jintao to Seattle to meet with business and state officials in what was Hu's first visit to the United States.

Gary Locke - Personal Profile

Gary Faye Locke, an Anglicized version of his Chinese name, Lok Ga-fai, was born on Jan. 21, 1950, in Seattle, the second of five children of Jimmy and Julie Locke.

For his first five years the family lived in the Yesler Terrace low-income project on a hilltop overlooking the Chinatown-International District and downtown Seattle.

His parents had a restaurant in the Pike Place Market and later a small grocery.

A shy Eagle Scout and choir boy, Locke parlayed scholarships and loans into a political science degree at Yale University, weighed careers in forestry, teaching and urban planning, earned a law degree from Boston University, returned home and worked for five years as a King County deputy prosecutor.

Increasingly active in politics, he became a staff attorney for the state Senate in 1981 and the next year won election to the House, ousting Peggie Maxie, a veteran incumbent and fellow Democrat.

By his third term he was chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, funneling money into education and other pet programs. He left that post after being elected King County executive in 1993.

The next year he married Mona Lee, a KING Television reporter when they met on a date arranged by friends. They have two daughters, Emily Nicole, 11, and Madeline Lee, 3, and a son, Dylan James, 9.

From a bachelor described in 1991 by the Seattle Weekly as "The Man Who Mistook His Life for the Legislature," Locke was suddenly a family man.

"There's a change. I spend more time with family and friends and I try to be a little more efficient at the office so I have more free time away from the office," Locke told The Associated Press during his successful run for governor in 1996.

"Mona's the best thing that's ever happened to me," he said. "I don't know if I'm warm and fuzzy. I think I have a little bit better appreciation of family relationships and obligations to family members, and the need to be aware of others."

As governor, Locke secured the assembly of the Boeing 787 in Everett with a $3.2 billion package of state tax incentives and aggressively pursued greater openings for businesses in the state in Mexico, Europe and Asia, especially China.

In private life he has long been known for enjoying household repairs and car work, crawling under sinks to fix leaky plumbing during parties and once breaking his back in a fall from the roof of a house he was remodeling.

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