udy Chu, the first ChineseAmerican woman electedto Congress, looks to con-tinue to pave the way forAmericans striving to findtheir footing in the land of thefree. The seasoned politician,who made her way to thestate legislature after 20 yearsas a college professor, vies toserve a second term in Con-gress, this time in the newly-redistricted 27th district.
Q. You have served at the local level,in the state assembly and on the board of equalization. What fueled your move forward to the congressional level?
A. I wanted the opportunity to servepeople and give a voice to those whomight not be able to otherwise speakup. I take pride in working on issuesthat allow those who might be disen-franchised to be able to have some say-so in the system. The opportunity tomake change for the better is very grat-ifying.
Q. What do you consider to be yourgreatest accomplishment in the Con-gress to date?
A. I am very proud of the fact that Ihave been able to get provisions per-taining to military hazing into the Na-tional Defense Authorization Act. Mynephew was hazed to death over a yearago in Afghanistan and it was very,very shocking. I vowed at that point tomake sure this culture, which tolerateshazing, is changed. Thank goodnesswe were able to work on a bipartisanbasis to get this in, and there were verygood provisions in there.I also was able to work on getting achange to a criminal law that was in re-sponse to the death of Bobby Saucedo.He was a local elected official killed bythe Mexican cartel when he was vaca-tioning down there. I got on the crimeand terrorism subcommittee of the ju-diciary and I was able to get a changein the law whereby the assets of theseinternational criminals would be ableto be freezed prior to conviction ratherthan post-conviction.As a 20-year college professor, I wasreally proud of being able to co-spon-sor the largest reform of the Pell Grantsystem ever, changing financial aid sothat we were able to get rid of the bankfees and instead put that whole systeminto the federal government. As a resultwe were able to save billions of dol-lars, and had the largest increase to PellGrants ever.
Q. If re-elected, how will you con-tinue to work to improve our schools?
A. We have to fight for the fundingof the Pell Grants. This is a constantbattle. I will continue to make sure thePell Grant system is what it promisesto be. I also have a mission to reformNo Child Left Behind because it hasturned into something that has beencounterproductive. Children are basi-cally being taught just how to taketests. If it is allowed to continue theway it is, we will have a vast majorityof school systems in the United Statesfailing to meet their goals. We cannothave that happen. That is truly counter-productive. Instead, I have a whole se-ries of initiatives in bills that I havesponsored dissecting the whole educa-tion system in terms of those elementsthat improve the school system—thatis, having a wrap-around system,which has been supported by researchto show results. Many of the times,kids are not doing well in school be-cause of the kind of conditions that sur-round them. For instance, they arehungry or they have health problems orthey don't have community support forsome other kind of looming issue.There needs to be a complete systemthat will support that child, and my billdoes that.My other bill has to do with teachertraining. Far too often, teachers are justthrown into the classroom and aren’tgiven the support they need. My billprovides for a comprehensive set of conditions that would improve teacherperformance by having a mentor, byhaving a system whereby teachers areable to collaborate with one another.
Q. You co-sponsored a bill that would extend and expand the Jobs NOW program, which used federalstimulus funds to subsidize jobs at thelocal level. How has that bill been suc-cessful and how will you continue towork for job creation?
A. I was the one that took the leadon that. In fact, jobs is my number-oneissue and what I continue to work on. Iam very proud of [co-sponsoring thatbill]. It was a terrific program that pro-vided 11,000 jobs in LA County alone.It provided a match for businesses thatwanted to hire people and it was a fastway not only for people to get jobs, butalso for the businesses to get that extrahelp that they needed when they werereluctant to have a permanent hire.Many of those jobs turned into perma-nent jobs for these hirees. There wasmoney leftoverin the programso we pushed tohave this pro-gram extended using the extra money,but unfortunately that bill got into par-tisan fighting so it didn’t pass.
Q. You have also mentioned that youthink the San Gabriel Mountainsshould become part of the NationalParks system, and have promised tocontinue with a promise to carry for-ward a bill initiated by Hilda Solis that proposes to do just that. Why do you feel this is important? How will it help?
A. [The mountains] are a tremen-dous resource. The San Gabriel Moun-tains are a jewel of LA County, andthey comprise 70 percent of the openspace in the county. There are 2 millionresidents that go there per year. At thatlevel, it is comparable to Yosemite orthe Grand Canyon, yet it is improperlymaintained. There is a lack of signageand trail maintenance, there are notenough restrooms or trash receptaclesand I think it’s because there are so fewresources for that area. That’s wherethe National Park Service comes in. If it is declared a national park area, thenthose resources will start to come in.
Q. You are also a huge supporter of the Gold Line. What is your plan to aid its continuation through Ontario de-spite lack of funding?
A. This has certainly been a top pri-ority of mine. In fact, when I first gotto Congress there was a threat that theMTA was not going to put [the GoldLine] into their long-term plan. I wentinto action and got a bipartisan lettersigned by 14 Congress members say-ing that it had to be in the long-rangeplan. Thank goodness the MTA paidattention. We have been able to ensureits success in terms of construction upuntil the year 2015 to the city of Azusa,but we really cannot stop there. Wehave to make sure that it comes out toClaremont and all the way out to theOntario Airport. That goal is what hasdriven us to look very, very closely atthis Measure R, and we have advo-cated very strongly that Measure R ful-fill its promise to complete the GoldLine all the way out to Claremont. Weare determined to make that happen.There is some talk about having acertain subsection of the highwayfunds of Measure R be available formass transit funds and, if so, it couldopen the doors to substantial fundingfor the ultimate completion of the GoldLine.
Q. Your opponent feels Congress’indecision, especially with regards totax cuts, is contributing to the “slug-gish economy.” He proposes makingthe tax cuts permanent and then lettingCongress work together to come upwith a new tax system that everyonecan agree on. What is your thought?
A. It would be a major disaster forour country if we continue the tax cuts.As it is, the upper 2 percent get [taxcuts] they don’t need. It is importantthat those who can should pay their fullshare.What’s worse about the Romney-Ryan plan is that it actually decreasescuts to the middle class. Just yesterday,there was a report that indicated that itwould take away critical tax deduc-tions such as donation items and mort-gage. That would be devastating to themiddle class.
Q. If elected, what is your priority for the 27th Congressional District?
A. Of course, number-one for me is jobs and the economy. We have begunrecovery, but there is still a long way togo. That is why I am on the small busi-ness committee and have a strong in-terest in getting help for smallbusinesses. I attended a hearing withthe Small Business Administration anddiscovered there was no Small Busi-ness Development Center (SBDC) inthe San Gabriel Valley. SBDCs arecritical because they allow us to pro-vide assistance that businesses need.My mission is to make sure we havethat resource here, and the SBA hasbeen responsive. We are working ongetting one at Pasadena City Collegeas well as at the University of LaVerne.
Q. At the convention, you said, “Noone ever said achieving the American Dream was easy.” How will you work to ensure that the American Dream isavailable to all families?
A. It’s a very, very important topicfor us in America. I truly feel we haveto reignite the American Dream. Wehave to make sure that there are theseladders of opportunity and that, on therungs of those ladders, that we are ableto make those steps as accessible aspossible for everybody in America.That means ensuring that there is ac-cess to higher education, that there isthe ability to start and expand yoursmall business, that we bring manufac-turing back to America so that we havethose good, high-paying manufacturing jobs. Those are just some of the steps,but if we are able to get those things to-gether, then I think everybody will havethe opportunity to succeed and I trulyfeel that once we get to the top of thatladder, that each and every one of ushas the responsibility to extend ourhand so that others can come up behindus.To learn more about Ms. Chu, visither campaign site at www.judychu.org.
Claremont COURIER/Wednesday, September 19, 2012
A passion for making all American’s voices heard
COURIER photo/Steven FelschundneffCongresswoman Judy Chu, Democraticcandidate for the 27th CongressionalDistrict.