Guest Post: Why I Am Voting For Jay Chen (by Stephany Yong)

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It’s an unpleasant time to be a young adult. The cost of a college education continues to soar; one in three of us will move back in with our parents after graduation. The intentions of our policy makers, national and local, seemed fueled by a hidden agenda. And to sum it all up with a “larger-than-me” problem, global warming turned out to be more than a crypto-socialist plot. Go figure.

As I fill out my voter registration document, I am understandably unsure of which party to choose as mine.  Neither group seems to have definitive solutions to my pressing concerns. I may not have understood the repercussions of Clinton’s impeachment as a four-year-old, but I have taken a US history class. A house divided cannot stand — and I’ve seen first-hand how inefficiently our political process functions when with a deeply divided partisan Congress.

America became great through its independent thinkers who looked forward with innovation and ambition; I have my own set of opinions regarding the economy and social rights, often straying from my conservative parents.  If society is to encourage me to formulate opinions on the world, I need a representative who can support my pursuit of happiness. The 39th district needs a candidate who will fight for what is right for us, not simply push a party agenda.

With this in mind, I am voting Jay Chen for Congress in November. He stands for ideals that I want to see in a reshaped America: a greater focus on education, advancing social services and providing consideration for the environment. It’s refreshing to see a candidate from the San Gabriel Valley who is in touch with the needs of his neighbors by serving them.

Because here is my agenda. My parents immigrated to the States in search of a college education and the American Dream, and I am proud of their “I came to this country with $20 in my pocket” story. Although I will be able to attend college this fall with the financial assistance of my parents, I know too many of my classmates and their families who struggle with the exorbitant tuition of a college education. On top of that, unemployment among college graduates younger than 25 had averaged 9.4% last year, with an additional 19.1% in jobs for which they were overqualified.

Our policy makers certainly talk the talk. They tell young people to work hard in school and that they will be rewarded for this investment in their education. Yet today I feel as if the young American is left to face depressing juxtapositions between what we were promised and what reality offers. Even Mitt Romney conceded that, “I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford…” Not only was this statement a contradiction, the notion that a person’s future depended on his ability to shell out thousands of dollars defeated America’s spirit of growth. As school board president, Jay has created free SAT classes at all four Hacienda district high schools and led free college application workshops for students who cannot afford private college consultants that also charge thousands of dollars. Accessible education should be a right of every citizen as a necessary stepping-stone in order to pursue happiness.

Jay Chen not only supports accessible education, but he also embodies an educational success story. Jay’s parents are Taiwanese immigrants; Jay studied Spanish during his time at Harvard University. He is a product of the Hacienda Heights public school system, having developed his passion for public service and academic excellence within this community. Jay’s experience at a global strategy consulting firm crossed with his experience as president of the Hacienda Board of Education has given him a context of understanding to lead. The 39th district mirrors that of a changing America, with large Hispanic and Asian populations. Cultural diversification is key in a world where globalization has become inevitable. Having pushed for Mandarin and Spanish language immersion classes at the elementary school level, Jay is a candidate who has gained experience in the corporate world while having given back to a community as more than a celebrated member of the Democratic Party — as a community leader with whom I can identify.

After all, I can’t help but feel out of touch with my elected leaders. They graduated from college decades ago, in a different world economy and frankly, a different America. I’d like to think that this group of young Americans will change the face of this country, a face that supersedes a skin color or socioeconomic background. We learned the hard way from our older siblings that one must pursue higher education in order to secure a job after high school graduation. We experienced how small grassroots efforts on a social media platform can easily lead to macro effects—unity, petition and revolution.

This district deserves a leader who has experienced the world and how this district plays into it. He is also a newcomer to the game of politics, which is just what the sport needs; a fresh pair of eyes that haven’t been jaded by the political process and can instead see this district’s immense potential for growth.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.