A Cambodian-American who ran on a platform of public safety, education and economic development has been elected to the city council of Lowell, Mass.
“We need inter-racial communication within the community, especially cooperation with city authorities to establish after-school programs for students,” said Nuon Vesna, who became the second Cambodian-American to be elected to the city’s governing body on Nov. 8.
Students need a variety of activities to partake in, he said, “rather than playing around in the streets and forming gangs to cause trouble in our community.”
Cambodians in Lowell tend to cluster around their own areas, he said, but businesses need to reach out more widely. He plans to work with city authorities to review permits and licensing in the city.
Nuon Vesna, who is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said he hopes to work with like-minded elected council members to achieve his goals.
“They also want public safety, they want business people to expand their businesses to other places in the community,” he said. They also want the creation of a Cambodia Town neighborhood, he said. “Therefore we need to work cooperatively with them to make the project a reality.”
A committee has been working on the establishment of a Cambodia Town, which is looking at the one already established in Long Beach, Calif. However, he said, in some ways that model may not work for Lowell.
Nuon Vesna said he decided to stand for election to represent Cambodians, who are a quarter of the population in Lowell. He said he hopes to solve the community’s problems and be an active mediator between the community and the city’s leaders.
His election, he said, was a good sign that Cambodians in Lowell are actively going to the polls.