New Arizona state Treasurer Kimberly Yee celebrated becoming the first Asian-American elected to statewide office Monday during at public inauguration ceremony at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix.

Yee, a Republican and former state senator, took the oath of office standing onstage with her parents, her husband and their two young children.

She spoke about her family's immigration story. She said both of her parents are descended from Chinese immigrants who came to the United States around the early 1900s, and worked hard to start small businesses.

"From one generation to the next, our family has worked hard, owned and operated family businesses, and made obtaining an education a priority," Yee said.

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Yee easily defeated Democrat Mark Manoil in the November election. She replaces outgoing Treasurer Eileen Klein, who was appointed last year after former Treasurer Jeff DeWit resigned in April to accept a position as NASA's chief financial officer. 

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Yee spoke in detail about her family's story, including her grandparents who started small businesses on opposite sides of the country.

She said her grandfather ran a Phoenix grocery store, where her mother, Betty, spent evenings working alongside her eight siblings. Betty would climb to the highest storeroom shelf to find a quiet place to do her homework. She later became a public-school teacher.

Yee's father, Jack, grew up in Pittsburgh, where his family owned a downtown hand-laundry business. He later moved to Phoenix and started his own small business.

"My parents taught me that I could be anything I wanted in this great country," Yee said. "I am honored to become the first Asian-American elected to statewide office in this great state."

Yee said she is also the first Chinese-American Republican woman elected to statewide office in the country.


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