Editor's Note: February 2011

So I put a BFF (left) on the cover. Any objections?

Ten years ago, Jane Kim and I were both budding community organizers. She worked for the Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco, and had co-founded Locus, an arts space that screened a video short I’d directed on spoken word and race. Despite living on different coasts, we both fell into the same crowds and befriended the same people—the Asians Americans who were performing poetry, editing ‘zines, organizing rallies, working with youth or clocking in for nonprofits.

Four years later, I ended up covering Jane during her bid for a seat on the San Francisco School Board. My assignment was to spend the entire day with Jane to witness her “on the campaign trail.” What I remember most vividly about that day was the sheer physical strength and stamina this young candidate exerted in her gutsy first run for political office. We spent more than 12 hours together, talking while she drove us from rallies to meetings to panels to events. It was exhausting.

As we pounded the pavement with her volunteers in the Inner Mission, I noticed that there was something very extraordinary about this woman’s ability to inspire others to join her cause. Her peers carried around ladders, nailing her posters to telephone poles. Young students had rolled out of bed to spend their Saturday passing out literature. And that evening, artists and comedians and musicians performed at a low-lit lounge for a fundraiser for Jane. I took in the scene—the voices and clinking of glasses—thinking, this is a person others truly believed in.

Jane and I have since become friends—yet, as well as I know her, Candidate Jane Kim still carries a certain mystique. Last year, after Jane pulled off a stunning upset victory in the race for the San Francisco District 6 supervisor seat—making her the first Asian American candidate to win a  non-historically Asian district—I began to wonder, as I did as a cub reporter in 2004, “What’s Jane’s secret?”

Click on charactermedia.com to find out.