Who am I?
The child of immigrants, I came to the United States and Southern California when I was just ten months old. My parents immigrated to the U.S. to find a better life and give my siblings an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Here they found a home, good schools, and a chance to succeed.
My parents' gratitude for these opportunities instilled in me a strong commitment to public service and a determination to ensure others have the same chance to achieve.
I attended public schools, and after working as a community organizer helping improve South Los Angeles, I returned to UCLA where I graduated from Law School. Instead of taking a high-paying legal job, I chose to return to community work, and committed myself to helping create local jobs and help students graduate with the skills to go on to college or enter the workforce.
I’m very proud of the work I’ve done creating jobs you can raise a family on, building parks and open space, and improving city services for our community.
As the former Economic Development Director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, I took the lead in bringing projects with good jobs with benefits to our community like the revitalization of downtown, redevelopment of the Wilshire Grand Hotel, and the new Farmers Field.
On the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board, I helped invest $50 million a year helping community members find jobs, funding after-school enrichment to help students graduate, and helping local businesses keep employees working instead of laying them off.
As a Public Works Commissioner, I helped build new parks, improve water quality, and streamline and improve city services like trash collection, graffiti removal, and street repair. My initiatives helped increase recycling in the city of Los Angeles and speed up the restoration of Echo Park Lake, build new green space and parks, and increase L.A.’s access to clean water.
Why am I running?
I am running because I believe this City is at a critical crossroads and needs someone who has experience bringing people together. I have always tried to build consensus and bring people together to make progress. On the City Council, I will bring stakeholders together such as Labor, Business, Young, Old, Minorities and LGBT. I think Los Angeles needs to be at the forefront of building a progressive vision for the city and the nation as a whole.
I think it is really important that we focus on jobs. Our economy is only beginning to recover, and I am the only candidate running that can actually bring more economic activity to the 13th Council District. That is why I am supported by the LA County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) because they know I will be the candidate that stands up for working people. I have and will continue to focus on good jobs, not those tied to a cash register, but jobs you can raise a family on. That’s why nurses, teachers, construction workers and janitors are supporting me because they know I will fight for the working class and get LA back to work.
I want to build a sustainable Los Angeles. While I was on the Board of Public Works I fought to make sure we had safe, clean drinking water. I stood up against big oil and corporate interests to push through Los Angeles’ municipal Plastic Bag Ban. This measure is not only environmentally responsible by making sure that these destructive plastic bags are not being washed into our waterways and out into the ocean, but it also opened my eyes to the lengths special interests will go to block progress and stymie change. I think it is important that the City of Los Angeles focus on enhancing its renewable power generation, because here in Los Angeles we can be a model for how sustainable, carbon-reduced living can work on a large scale. We have the support, the will, and know-how to lead the way.
On the City Council, we need a progressive champion, and the 13th District has a history of electing real progressive leaders. I think I fit that proud legacy. I am endorsed by Progressives like labor icon Dolores Huerta, Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Congresswoman Judy Chu, the Democratic Party and the LA County Federation of Labor, among others. Whomever represents the 13th district of Los Angeles must be able to stand with a diverse group. Our district requires a real rainbow coalition, Latinos, Koreans, Filipinos, Armenians, African Americans, Labor, Progressive and Democrats. On the City Council we need someone that can speak for multiple communities and voices and if elected I am the candidate uniquely positioned to do just that.
My top goal is to increase good jobs. Too many people work in LA and cannot afford to live in LA. We need to fix the toxic relationship between the City and the business community, but we also need to make sure we work with our brothers and sisters in labor to make sure the jobs that we create are good jobs, that people can raise a family on. Good-paying jobs help lift communities up, reduce the amount of crime, and encourage better education outcomes for our children. As a Councilman for one of the poorest districts in the city, I will champion the cause of the working poor and will work hard to ensure that our district does not remain one of the districts with the highest unemployment rate.
As a young councilmember in a city as progressive and large as Los Angeles, I will make technology a top priority. I’ve grown up in the internet age and I’ve worked in and around the city’s various departments. Los Angeles is behind and far too paper-based for a modern city. Constituent service, city record-retention, transparency and just general accessibility of forms would all benefit from electronic upgrades and computer-based systems. There has not been political will, or honestly, enough attention-span, to work on something as pedestrian as paper reduction. Moving the city of Los Angeles off of paper records, streamlining duplicitous systems and creating ease of access for constituents could save Los Angeles millions of dollars and headaches.
My DFA Values
I am running as a progressive and I’m proud to do so. I have stood up for the rights and empowerment of underrepresented communities my entire life, I have stood against corporate and powerful interests that seek to stifle change and I have stood up for equality, justice and what I think is right.
When candidates run for office, especially here in Los Angeles, you hear about their supposed progressive credentials, but many have never been part of a fight on the ground. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with progressives. I helped lead a march in opposition to a proposed Wal-Mart being built in Historic Chinatown. I flew to Wisconsin to lead a delegation protesting the draconian Scott Walker budget. I went to Arizona to help overturn the racist SB 1070. On major national and local progressive causes, and I’ll be a leader pushing for marriage equality and full rights and benefits for the LGBT community. I have been there fighting against the outside interests that seek to corrupt our political system and take basic human rights away from Americans. I am not afraid to go to the mat for my principles.
My Campaign is People Powered!
I am very proud of my campaign because it is driven by volunteers and youth inside the community, something the local press insists on ignoring. My staff is almost exclusively made up of dedicated individuals under 35. We have 12 field organizers working across a myriad of communities. Our campaign is diverse and accessible, speaking five languages and reaching out to people in their neighborhoods. Our operation does not only organize for me, but for the causes we believe in and for those that need some help amplifying their voice. We are organizing community clean-ups, bike rides, and fundraisers for community projects. I know activism can be manifested in many ways, through social networking, relationships and good old fashioned organizing, and that is the model my campaign hopes to follow.
If elected I would be the first Korean American elected to office in the Los Angeles City Council, and the 1st Asian American in 20 years - this in a city with the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea and one of the largest populations of Asians in the country. Obviously my campaign draws a lot of attention from those communities, but I am so proud to have equally strong support from a broad coalition of Latinos, Filipinos, Armenians, Thai, LGBT, and progressives. Volunteers from Korean grandmothers to Latino high school students have been attracted to my campaign’s inclusive and progressive message. As a community organizer, I know how important it is to have citizen involvement in government. I’ve tried to model my campaign on that concept and I believe we have succeeded.