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Election 2012: Questions for Ed Chau, candidate for 49th State Assembly District

The large blue and white election posters lining the windows next to Face Cafe on Valley Boulevard make Edwin “Ed” Chau’s campaign office hard to miss. Chau, a lawyer and member of the Montebello School Board, is the Democratic candidate for the 49th State Assembly District, which includes Alhambra and large portions of the West San Gabriel Valley. His opponent, Dr. Matthew Lin, is a surgeon and a Republican.

Ed Chau's campaign office

Married with one daughter, Chau currently lives in Monterey Park but opened a private law practice in Alhambra more than 18 years ago. We sat down with Chau at his Alhambra headquarters to discuss his history with the city, love for public service, and goals if elected to state assembly.

What connections do you have to Alhambra?

Alhambra is where I started my law practice more than 18 years ago. When I first started, I rented an office at 801 S. Garfield Ave. Then I moved to 506 N. Garfield Ave. and that’s where I stayed for more than 15 years before moving to South Pasadena last year. I’ve been serving people who live in Alhambra as well as the San Gabriel Valley area.

If elected, what do you plan to achieve? Why do you want to be an assemblyman?

This campaign is about protecting education. I’d like to continue to advocate on behalf of the students. When we talk about the economy and the recovery that we are undergoing, we have to look at education as the ultimate solution.

Education has really played a major role in my life. It has changed my life, opened many doors, gave me a lot of options. I think the next generation should also deserve something that I experienced.

Ed Chau with ATC students in Montebello. | Photo from edchau.comI also want more job creation. I helped build a brand new school in Montebello called the Applied Technology Center, which prepares our kids not only for college but also for a career pathway of their choice, for example engineering, hospitality, or health care. So in a sense we are helping to create jobs. I think we need to make that connection at the state level.

Environmental issues: the 49th Assembly District is sitting on top of many Superfund sites, so we also need to continue to help water clean up. We need open space, more parks, clean energy.

I have a diverse background in education, law, business, and computers — I was an engineer for IBM for almost a decade. As an engineer I was there to find solutions to problems. So I have a very methodical way to finding solutions. Giving my diverse background, I could bring a lot to the table.

What do you think distinguishes you from your opponent Dr. Matthew Lin?

I have a track record of bringing people together to find solutions to problems. For the past 12 years I’ve been serving on the Montebello School Board. I’ve been working with folks from all walks of life: parents, teachers, administrators, students, and community partners who come from different backgrounds, party affiliations, and ideologies. Yet, we’ve been able to work very well together in finding ways to help improve education for our kids. We’ve been able to balance our budget every year, which is $200 million on the average, without a single teacher lay off.

Public service has always been my calling throughout the years. I served as a judge pro tem for the court to make our court system accessible to the community for about 10 years. I did work for various agencies, including the American Legal Center, the Legal Aide Foundation of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, the Department of Social Services, and the Chinatown Service Center.

I was also a volunteer Chinese radio broadcaster for more than 10 years. I would gather all the news stories and then make sure we covered all the pertinent issues and the listeners were aware of them. I was also helping to do stories. For example, let’s say there’s a legal issue, let’s say wills and trust, then I would do something about that.

Ed Chau in his campaign office

Lin stated in his interview that residents should vote for him since he’s lived in the district 34 years and you’ve only lived here 9 or 10 months. Readers also asked, “Are you ‘district shopping?’”

I’ve been serving the community and the assembly district for a long time. I’ve been on the Montebello School Board for the last 12 years. And the school district overlaps with many portions of the assembly district, such as parts of Montebello, Monterey Park, South San Gabriel, and Rosemead.

For more than 15 years I’ve been practicing law at my small business in Alhambra. I have a very close tie to the district.

Lin also said: “I have a background in running a business in the local area and I really know how a business works…Ed Chau is a personal injury lawyer, so it’s decidedly different.” How would you respond to that?

As the principal owner of my law firm, I am also a small business owner. I have to look at my bottom line every single month. I have a payroll to meet, employees, workers’ compensation, rent. I also understand the struggles and issues that small businesses face on a daily basis.

As far as the issue with being a personal injury lawyer, essentially I’ve been representing small business owners. I help them start their own companies. Every so often I have a client who has a car accident and that’s also an area I’m well versed in. But I help with litigation, immigration, and real estate work. So to characterize me as a personal injury lawyer is totally inaccurate.

Photo from edchau.com

A new poll by the Asian American Justice Center found that Asian Americans are largely underengaged in the political process, and our readers have brought up that there is little awareness among residents about what is actually happening in local government. What are some of your ideas for improving communication and civic participation?

I agree that the new 49th Assembly District is very diverse. We could understand people from other cultures, different ethnic backgrounds, and that’s something we should treasure.

Having said that, I believe that the way to encourage more civic engagement or participation is by communication to these folks. I have been the bridge between the government and the community, to be able to communicate to constituents that I’m here for them. And I want to bring resources to these folks to make sure that government really is a part of them and they are a part of government.

Also having community forums and getting the message out to these folks that they should participate and be a part of government. Make sure that their voice is represented and they are what make up the government and the policies under the government.

Some residents feel that there is too much local development, and some would like to see more development.  What is your perspective?

In general I believe more development would bring forth more job opportunities. However, having said that, we have to strike a balance between development and residential areas. We have to look at many factors to determine what is saturated, what is the optimal level of development. And then obviously we have to listen to the constituents. Overdevelopment is not good, and underdevelopment is not good either. So it’s a balancing act.

Ed Chau in his campaign office

What do you like about Alhambra?

I enjoy being in Alhambra, and I think Alhambra is a very nice community. People are very courteous and it is also a place where everything is pretty much within walking distance, for example good restaurants.

Almansor Park is a good place because of the open space, because of the serenity. I sometimes take my daughter there. I used to play golf at the driving range over there. I still use the pool at the YMCA.

Anything else?

I truly think that together we can make a difference. I’m very optimistic about the future and really looking forward to serving the community.

Interview was edited and condensed. This story is not an endorsement. 

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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13 thoughts on “Election 2012: Questions for Ed Chau, candidate for 49th State Assembly District”

  1. Thank you again for publishing interviews with candidates and for asking Mr. Chau to address Dr. Lin’s assertion that he had gone district shopping. I’m satisfied with the answer and think Mr. Chau’s connections to the district are sufficient to negate Dr. Lin’s argument.

    I agree with other comments. This has been a particularly nasty race and neither side has been innocent. I have a stack of flyers from both men and their surrogates that are misleading, filled with red herrings, and consist entirely of ad hominem attacks. Both stretch the boundaries of decency and it seems Mr. Chau hits a bit harder.

    While I don’t condone publishing someone’s sensitive, private data, I’m not sure the social security number is as serious an issue as some posters here or Dr./Mrs. Lin make it out to be. The tax lien shown in Mr. Chau’s flyers is a public document. Either the government agency responsible does not have a policy identifying social security numbers as sensitive and thus requiring that it be redacted from documents it shares with the public, or the agency dropped the ball and failed to follow its own policies. Either way, the disclosure started with the government agency and blame is more appropriately directed there. Had I been in Mr. Chau or his campaign manager’s shoes, I would not have thought that the agency had failed to redact sensitive data from a public document. Moreover, it isn’t clear that the number was a social security number or subject to greater care than any other piece of information contained on the document. From what I can see in the political flyer I received, nothing identifies that number as a social security number. The social security number sits out in the middle of the page without context. Also, I think it worth noting that the underlying issue is that some organizations use social security numbers as a super-secret passcode when it is simply an identifier that is shared so widely and available on so many documents that its secrecy should have no relevance.

    1. Dan. If you feel that someones social security number being published, “is not so serious an issue as some posters here or Dr./Mrs. Lin make it out to be. Then why not post your social security number here, since it’s no big deal.

      1. @Moran: Sharing my social security number in this forum is as relevant as sharing my home address — neither are relevant and your request is a red herring.

        Notice that I said “not so serious an issue,” not that the sharing was not an issue at all. I agree that sharing the social security number is an issue, but it is the type of transgression that simply requires an apology. I also think that by filing suit and making it a campaign issue, the Lins brought more attention to the number than otherwise would have occurred.

        The primary reason this is not as serious an ethical lapse as we are being led to believe is because the tax lien document published is a public document that is publicly available. The public agency who shared it has the greater responsibility to identify sensitive or confidential information to withhold from the public and then redact that information before sharing it with the public. I don’t think a member of the public should have a duty to look through a document for sensitive information before sharing further.

  2. Personally, I hope Lin beats Chau badly. Chau sounds just like many other politicians who just happen to be lawyers, like the guy in Sacramento and the guy in D.C. They all have the same old line about it’s all about education. When will there ever be enough schools and money for education to bring California schools up to the standards that should be required, when California is one of the top three states in spending for education, yet California is near the bottom rung of the ladder in performance. These politicians have been feeding the public this poor excuse for far too long.

    1. Guillermo, you’re right on it! Win for Lin!

  3. I’m sorry but posting someone’s SS number like that is in extremely bad taste.

    Also not apologizing and saying it was an oversight is also in extremely bad taste.

    TO A- post your sources, if you are going to slander someone.

    I’ve seen alot of dirty campaigning, on the local and national scale, I am not saying to vote for Lin or Chau, but you just can’t blatantly cross the line of bad taste, that is just bad PR.

  4. Roz Collier, President

    Glad to hear that Governor Brown has endorsed Ed Chau’s candidacy. California leaders support Ed’s experience and knowledge on issues that will impact our San Gabriel Valley residents.

    Way to Go Mr. Chau!

  5. Roz Collier, President

    The California Teachers Association, Judy Chu, the mayor of Alhambra, Tom Torlakson the Superintendent of Public Education, Alhambra City Council members Stephen Sham and Andre Quintero, Mayor of El Monte, Alhambra School Board Members such as Adele Andrade Stadler and Bob Gin understand what is good for Alhambra. State senators Ed Hernandez and Carol Liu understand what is good for Alhambra.

    Alhambra needs an Assembly member who will represent them in Sacramento with experience and knowledge.

    FACT: Ed Chau is an experienced attorney who understands complex legislative issues.
    FACT: Ed Chau has 12 years of experience as a school board member overseeing a multi-million budget.
    FACT: Ed Chau has the endorsement of the California Asian Pacific Islander Leg Caucus, labor groups such as the Alhambra Teachers Association, the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs…

    Organizations such as those listed KNOW the person they need to represent them in Sacramento.

    Alhambra needs to vote on FACTS not on public arguments not on superficial arguments bordering on gossip…

    1. “Alhambra needs to vote on FACTS not on public arguments not on superficial arguments bordering on gossip.”- says Rosalyn Collier, president of the Alhambra Teachers Association.

      The FACT is that the social security number of Dr. Lin’s wife was publicized in mailers and online. The FACT is that even with the LA Times calling the Chau campaign out for unethical conduct, the campaign still stood by those mailers. That’s not gossip.That actually happened.

      Rosalyn Collier, president of the Alhambra Teachers Association, says that public arguments do not matter. Is that what she thinks of the hard working resident taxpayers who pay the salaries of teachers within our district? Residents do have a right to voice their opinions and to engage in two way conversation. It’s good for getting at the heart of the issues that face us.

      For Rosalyn Collier to marginalize the voices of resident taxpayers who pay the salaries of Alhambra’s teachers shows that she thinks she has a monopoly on public discourse. That’s simply disturbing and unacceptable.

      There’s one thing that we know we’ll get with Ed Chau: Higher taxes and more bureaucracy. That’s made certain by Governor Brown’s support. That’s also made certain by Andre Quintero, mayor of El Monte, who wants to impose a soda tax on the good residents of El Monte.

      1. I love the idea of a tax on soda! Inspired thinking Mr. Quintero! Maybe this will have the good residents of El Monte thinking twice about drinking soda! Water is a wonderful beverage.

        So humorous how people get so uppity over comments. Chris declaring
        that Ms. Collier “thinks she has a monopoly on public discourse” and that
        it’s “simply disturbing and unacceptable,” hilarious!

        Wow! she is very important to you Chris! You have given her tremendous power.
        If a comment like hers gets you that worked up…. well I could say many things here, but I hope there are some others out there who can see Ms. Collier’s and Chris’s rhetoric for what it is.

        Oh, and in case you can’t tell, I don’t have a problem with what
        Ms. Collier said and, not only that, I agree with her too!

  6. I’m glad that Mr. Chau is running but wish that his supporters and others paying for mailers would be more explicit in what actions he intends to work towards in Sacramento.

  7. Ed Chau may like Alhambra. He’s also a big fan of playing dirty politics, which is something that the good people of Alhambra don’t need.

    The AP reported that several of Mr. Chau’s mailers and an internet video revealed the social security number of his opponent’s wife.


    1. How laughable. Yes, the campaign published records that were OPEN TO PUBLIC. Had anyone felt like searching for people dodging taxes, it would have popped right up on your screen. I love how the Lin campaign is trying for play for a sympathetic angle with Joy, and diverting attention away from the sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed against her husband.

      Matthew Lin may be a doctor. He’s also a giant fan of playing dirty, stoop-to-below-low dirty politics. I guess you must have never been in one of the hospitals he owns- where patients are overcharged. Do business with one of his hospitals? Be prepared to be threatened to have your business cut off if you don’t endorse or vote for him. Write for a newspaper- especially a Chinese language one? That’s a great payoff, since he bribes editors to give him a half-page with a positive spin. Ever heard him debate or speak in a forum? Surprise, surprise- not any widely publicized ones, because he has no idea what the heck he’s talking about. If I had a dollar for every time he said something unintelligible or nonsensical in a forum, I’d be as rich as he is, and via an honest route.

      Sure, you have the right to vote for Lin, and if he wins you’ll celebrate. But I’m sure you’ll be sorry for it as soon as he steps into office. The man is so far cut off from understanding the struggles and needs of everyday hardworking people that he might as well be living on the moon.