A growing field of candidates is vying for the 49th Assembly District, which includes Alhambra and recently became the first majority Asian congressional or legislative district in California. The seat will be up for grabs next year since Mike Eng will be termed out. The most recent entrants are attorney and Montebello School Board Member Edwin “Ed” Chau and former Rosemead mayor John Tran who joined Alhambra Mayor Luis Ayala and likely Monterey Park Councilman Mitchell Ing.
The campaign is just winding up, but a turning point may have already happened. Chau announced his candidacy with backers Councilwoman Judy Chu and Assemblyman Eng late last month at Ocean Star Restaurant in Monterey Park. He was called a candidate who is exceptionally “community minded;” able to reach across ethnicities, having always been elected in a predominantly Latino district; and the only candidate who is trilingual in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Chu and Eng's endorsement "could be the turning point of this campaign," the chairman of the Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE), Charlie Woo, told the Pasadena Star-News. Support from this power couple could lead to a two-man race between Chau and Ayala, according to Woo.
Ayala, noting that he has led in early fundraising and has backing from more than 17 legislators and 15 local elected officials, told the Star-News that he was not worried: "I don't think endorsements win elections; candidates win elections."
Chau has served as a school board member for the Montebello Unified School District for the past 12 years and holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Computer Science from the University of Southern California (USC), and a Doctor of Law Degree from Southwestern University School of Law.
"He is a very proven elected official and I will work very hard for him," Congresswoman Chu, who is Assemblyman Eng’s wife, said. She noted Chau's resume and background, stating that "someone like him deserves to be in state assembly."
El Monte Union High School Board Member, former Rosemead mayor, and real estate agent John Tran announced his candidacy last Tuesday, August 30th. Among his endorsers are Alhambra Unified School District Board Member Adele Andrade-Stadler and West San Gabriel Valley Association of Realtors President Arthur Luna. Like Chau, Tran also has won his candidacy in a majority Latino community.
“I am running for State Assembly because I want to change things in Sacramento. I want to ensure that my children grow up in a safe neighborhood, have access to a great education, and find quality jobs in the new economy,” Tran said in a press release. “In Sacramento, I will fight to create jobs for local residents, ensure children in our community have access to a quality education and deliver our district’s fair share of funding for public safety and transportation projects.”
Tran, at the age of 23, made history as the youngest member of the Garvey School District Board of Education. He was also the first Asian American member of the Rosemead's City Council and the first Asian American to serve as the city's mayor.
The primary elections will be held on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.