Congresswoman Judy Chu represents Alhambra and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley in the House of Representatives. Chu (D-El Monte) was the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress and won her third term in November 2012 when she defeated Republican challenger Jack Orswell. With more than 25 years of political experience, Chu has spent time on the Garvey Unified School District Board of Education, Monterey Park City Council, and California State Assembly.
When Chu isn’t in Washington, D.C., she lives in Monterey Park with her husband Mike Eng — her successor in the State Assembly. Chu told Alhambra Source about her plans for a new term, creating jobs in the San Gabriel Valley, and her favorite place in Alhambra.
What is your connection to Alhambra?
I have had the privilege of representing Alhambra for almost a decade, first in my State Assembly District and then when I served on the Board of Equalization.
I know this community very well, both from my time representing its needs in elected office and also from simply being a longtime resident of the San Gabriel Valley. Alhambra is right next door to where I live in Monterey Park, so its part of the area that I’m happy to call home.
What are your plans for a new term?
One of my big priorities for the next term is to continue my work addressing our infrastructure needs in the San Gabriel Valley. That includes fully funding the Gold Line Extension to the Ontario Airport and seeing to completion the Alameda Corridor East Project, both of which will improve transportation and commerce in our community.
Nationally, I am very optimistic that we will see comprehensive immigration reform become a reality in the coming months. Our broken immigration system tears families apart, denies businesses of talented employees, and keeps some of the brightest students in our own universities from innovating here once they graduate. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I will have direct jurisdiction over immigration reform, and I intend to play an active role in finally getting it passed.
Lastly, on a truly somber note, the Sandy Hook tragedy has brought gun control to the forefront once again in our political discourse. I am a longtime advocate for stricter gun laws, having worked in conjunction with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition and having cosponsored bills to prohibit large capacity magazines and fix our broken background system. I will continue pushing for common sense guidelines that will save lives. There’s simply no place for assault weapons in our society.
Some residents are concerned about local businesses along Main Street and in other parts of Alhambra closing down as a result of the recession. How will you create and ensure jobs in this district?
I am very concerned with how this recession has impacted small businesses in Alhambra. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy — they are responsible for creating two out of every three new jobs. I came to Congress in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in our nation's history and focused on creating jobs, stimulating economic development, and assisting small businesses to not only survive but also thrive.
I used my position on the Small Business Committee to hold hearings on everything from improving access to capital to mentoring for businesses in the federal contracting process. And I brought the resources of the federal government to our community to assist residents in finding jobs and growing their businesses.
Going forward, I will continue fighting for new prospects for entrepreneurs in Alhambra and the rest of the San Gabriel Valley.
Alhambra residents have said they feel uninformed and under engaged in the political process, and recent studies show that minority residents, especially Asian Americans and Latinos, have a lower engagement rate than other groups. How will you help increase civic engagement in your district?
Political disengagement often occurs because Americans don’t see how politics relates to them. I believe that our democracy works best when the people making decisions for Americans look like the American people. I am proud that I am the first Chinese American woman to be elected to Congress, and that I am serving while we have our first African American president.
The more elected officials we have that represent diverse communities, the more those communities will recognize the impact that being involved in politics can have on their daily lives.
What’s your favorite place in Alhambra?
My favorite place in Alhambra has to be Main Street. It has so many great restaurants and fun things to do.
This interview has been edited and condensed.