Application for Legislative Commission for Harry Budisidharta

Contact Information

Full Name

Harry Budisidharta

Eligible for commission

eligible

Party Affiliation

Democrat

Occupation

Executive Director of Asian Pacific Development Center

Educational Background

2007 Juris Doctor from University of Colorado Law School; 2003 Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University of Los Angeles.

Zip Code

80015

Congressional District
6

Background

Past Political Activity

I have been a registered Democrat ever since I was 18 years old, and I am proud to say that I have voted in every election since then. I have volunteered my time with two political campaigns: (1) 2006 Referendum I that would have created same-sex civil union in Colorado, and (2) Andrew Romanoff campaign for CD-6 in 2014. I have donated money to the following candidates/elected officials: House Speaker Crisanta Duran, Denver City Council Jamie Torres, State Senator Julie Gonzales, State Representative Joe Salazar, Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher, Congressional Candidate David Aarestad, Denver School Board Rachele Espiritu, Denver School Board Candidate Jo Ann Fujioka, and Aurora Mayoral Candidate Omar Montgomery. I have donated money to the following advocacy organizations: Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Asian American Advancing Justice, Black Lives Matter 5280, and Center for Health Progress.

List of Political and Civic Organizations belonged to

Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council; Mile High Japanese American Citizens League; Asian Chamber of Commerce; Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado; Center for Health Progress; Colorado Access - Program Improvement Advisory Committee; Governor Polis' COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

Organization and Advocacy Experience

I am a long-time leader in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. I have organized numerous citizenship workshops, non-partisan candidate debates, and community town halls to promote civic engagement within the immigrant and refugee communities. In 2015, I worked together with Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) to advocate for a Medicaid rule change so that refugees can maintain their Medicaid benefit even if they do not become US citizens within 7 years of arrival in the US. After months of advocacy, our effort was successful and the Medicaid rule was changed to the benefit of the refugee communities. We have seen a sharp increase in hate crimes against AAPI communities because of the inflammatory rhetoric around COVID-19. I worked with other AAPI community leaders to bring this issue to the attention of our elected officials. As a result of our advocacy effort, Aurora City Council, Boulder City Council, and Denver Mayor Hancock issued statements condemning hate crimes against our community. I also worked with Aurora Police Department to create and publicize a public service video to inform our community about what they can do if they are victims of hate crimes. This video was published in multiple languages and has been watched over 3,500 times.

Statement

I grew up in a dictatorship where my voice and votes do not matter. My parents sent me to the United States when I was 12 years old in order to escape the social unrest caused by the collapse of the dictatorship. Ever since I became a US citizen, I have been passionate about making sure that the immigrant and refugee communities have their voices heard by elected officials and are represented at various levels of government. I want to serve on this commission to make sure that the immigrant and refugee communities are represented and that our voices will not be silenced through gerrymandering. I believe that it is important for the commission to develop fair maps for the residents of Colorado so that our voices can be heard by our elected officials.

Statement on Working with Consensus

In my role as the Executive Director of APDC, I am often called to resolve disputes between prominent community leaders. A few years ago, I was called to mediate a dispute that happened between two leaders of a prominent AAPI community organization. The dispute was over a recent election result and it has paralyzed the organization since nobody knows who is in charge. I was called to mediate the dispute because of my legal skills and my reputation as a fair and impartial mediator. I met with both leaders to listen to their concerns without taking sides or expressing judgments. After I was able to build trust with both of them, I asked them to stop sending combative emails and agree to meet in-person to discuss potential resolutions. The in-person meeting did not start on a good footing because both leaders were eager to rehash old wounds. I was able to get them to temporarily set aside their personal grievances and think about how their disputes has adversely affected the future of the organization. In the end, the leaders agreed to a resolution where one of them will remain in charge and the other will be given a graceful exit out of the organization. The meeting did not end with both leaders becoming friends with each other, but they were able to set aside their personal grievances and reach a resolution that was beneficial for the organization.

Relevant Analytic Skills for Commission

As an attorney, I am trained to analyze a problem through multiple lens. This is a skill that has come in handy because it forces me to keep an open mind and to try to understand the viewpoints of other people. I do not have to agree with their viewpoints, but I have to try to understand where they are coming from and how their actions are influenced by their viewpoints. This skill has not only helped me come up with unique solutions to problems, but has also helped me identify my own blind spots. As the Executive Director of a healthcare organization, I spend a significant portion of my time reviewing organization financials and analyzing social determinants data for the immigrant and refugee communities. I am comfortable with analyzing complex data to figure out community trends, and I am comfortable with making decisions even if we do not have all the necessary data.

Demographics

Racial categories the applicant identifies with:
Asian
Applicant identifies with the following gender

Male