From 1995-2012, Mr. Lim served as the mayor and council member for the city of Walnut, California. During his tenure on the council, he also served two terms as the president of the Chinese American Elected Officials (CEO) in Southern California. He was a delegate to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and he sat on the board of directors of several government and private agencies. His community achievement earned him the honor of being featured in a 2002 book entitled “Distinguished Asian American Political and Governmental Leaders.”
Prior to becoming the President of AIEF (American International Education Foundation), Mr. Lim served as the executive director of the California Institute of Public Administration (CIPA) from 2004 to 2013. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at California State University in Long Beach.
Best way to contact
I was one of the very first Chinese Americans to be elected to a position in this city.
I was elected to the Walnut City Council in 1995, and at that time, Chinese people were beginning to move into the San Gabriel Valley. One of the reasons so many chose to move here was the same reason I did because of the excellent school district.
There were not too many Asian Americans who ran for public office. I was one of the first ones to do it.
I was motivated to run back then because the city was about to approve a project to bring Target into Walnut. It’s a very small community that is filled with mom-and-pop stores, and they wanted to bring in a big box store. That mobilized me to get involved.
I was one of the founders, along with Judy Ju. There were so few of us back then it was more important that we came together.
Right now, we have over 100 members.
My dad was Filipino-Chinese. He was of Chinese descent but was born in the Philipines, and he mainly spoke English and Filipino, and that’s why we (my siblings and I) have Spanish first names.
My middle name is Anthony, so I have a Spanish first name, an Italian middle name, and a Chinese last name.
As a young kid growing up in Hong Kong, I had a love for America. I used to watch American TV shows. My favorite shows were Route 66, Shindig!, Hollywood A Go-Go, and Playboy After Dark.
I don’t know where my love for America came from, but I had a goal of attending an American college. Because of this, I deliberately flunked my entrance exams in Hong Kong, and my mom said, “Ok, well, you have to go somewhere,” so I came to America.
I was actually adopted out of China because I was so poor. A family from Hong Kong and the Philippines adopted me at the age of two, and we went to live in Hong Kong, and I lived there for 17 years.
I went to a boarding school because Hong Kong was British, and I hung around with a lot of British and American kids.
Because of that, I told myself that I wanted to be American.
It was one of the most traumatic experiences that I had. I’m 70 years old and have never been in the hospital, but when I had Covid, I didn’t think I would make it.
I stayed in two hospitals for over three weeks and then in rehab for another three weeks.
When I ran for city council, I wondered how I would market myself. Back then, Walnut was conservative and predominately Caucasian. How would they receive and support a Chinese guy with a Spanish name?
I had to find common ground with them, and that was the love of our country. The way I showed how I love our country was through my service in the military. Those three and a half years in the Army turned my life around.
No, I dropped out of college to join the Army. When I started college, I was doing really well at first. I was on the dean’s list my first year, but by my junior year, my GPA was dropping steadily. So, I dropped out and joined the Army.
After three and a half years, I reenrolled and graduated. Then I went to grad school.
I wanted to be a pilot, but I failed my eye test. I asked them if there was anything I could do with aviation, so I became a helicopter medic. I was stationed in an M-A-S-H unit in Korea.
No, I was stationed in Osan and spent some time in Seoul.
I did, and I met my first wife there. I loved Korea.
Two significant changes happened.
One was I became a man of my word. If I promised someone I would do something, I would do it. Whether or not I succeed, that’s another issue.
Two, I became more punctual. Being on time was very important in the Army, and I’ve carried it over to the rest of my life.
These traits have helped me as a professional negotiator for the government, Lockheed, Boeing aircraft, McDonald Douglas, and Rockwell International.
Yes, there were 17 equestrian trails, but they weren’t used by the horses much anymore. The city we decided to turn them into hiking trails.