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Dramatic rise for former refugee

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
Bopha Malone. Mass.gov

Bopha Malone, a Cambodian-US political and business leader who suffered years as an impoverished refugee, succeeded in her bid for the Bedford Select Board.

It makes her the first Cambodian-US woman in Massachusetts and the second in the United States to be elected to public office.

Malone, 39, who is also vice-president at the Enterprise Bank in Lowell, won one of two seats in the Bedford Select Board. The other seat was won by incumbent board member Edward Pierce.

Bedford, a town within the Greater Boston area, had its election for Select Board and other positions on March 14.

In addition to the Select Board, residents of Bedford also voted for the town’s Board of Assessors, Board of Health, Planning Board, Library Trustee and School Committee.

“I’m proud to have been sworn in today as the newest member of the Bedford Select Board. As far as I know, I am the first minority woman elected to the position.  I’m also the first Cambodian-American woman in Massachusetts and the second in the US to be elected to public office,” Malone said in an email.

Khemarey Khoeun, who was elected as Skokie Park District Commissioner in Illinois three years ago, had the distinction of being the first Cambodian-US woman voted into public office in the US.

Malone said she planned to bring energy and enthusiasm, as well as new ideas, to her role as a Select Board member for Bedford. A Select Board often acts as the governing body of towns in Massachusetts and other New England states.

“I will serve as a voice for young families and for all our residents. I will work hard to engage more residents and encourage more participation in town government, at all levels and in all committees. I want Bedford’s government to be open and inviting to all,” she said.

“Good government is about representation – both in reflecting who the residents are and in listening to and responding to their needs. Bedford’s population has grown and our diversity has become our strength,” she added.

Malone said everyone needs to step up for the future of Bedford.

“To continue to successfully plan for our future, whatever that holds, we need newer residents to step up, contribute and lead our community. I am ready to do so and I’m so happy to contribute to this effort,” she stressed.

“We are creating a town government that reflects who we are in Bedford today and what we want for our future. We are bringing all voices to the table to ensure that we make decisions that reflect our entire community,” she added.

This is not Malone’s first foray into politics. In 2018, she ran in the Democratic primary to replace Representative Niki Tsongas, who opted not to seek re-election in the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts.  In addition to her holding a top position in Enterprise Bank, one of the leading financial institutions in Massachusetts, Malone is also active in civic and community affairs.

Malone is currently President of the Women Working Wonders Fund Board and Trustee at the Middlesex Community College. She is also actively involved with the Lowell General Hospital, Working Cities Challenge and Community Teamwork Inc. Malone has a compelling life story. She and her family arrived in the US in 1989, after spending several years as refugees in Thailand and the Philippines.

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