October 8, 2014
United States Congresswoman Judy Chu, during the Glendora Military
Memorial Dedication Ceremony, at the Glendora City Hall in Glendora,
Saturday, June 22, 2013.
Judy Chu has been an elected official in the San Gabriel Valley for
almost three decades, ever since she first joined the Garvey School
Board in 1985. She moved up through the Monterey Park City Council, the
Assembly and the state Board of Equalization before winning her first
congressional seat in the old 32nd District. After redistricting, Chu
ran and won in the Pasadena-centric 27th District, which makes up much
of the San Gabriel Valley. The first Chinese-American woman in Congress,
her district has the second-most Asian residents in the state at 37
It’s also one of the safest Democratic districts in California.
Last time around, Republican challenger Jack Orswell got 36 percent of
the votes to Chu’s 64 percent.
But Orswell is back again for this
2014 race, campaigning hard against Chu’s hope to have the Angeles
National Forest become a national monument in order to secure more
funding for the San Gabriel Mountains. The former FBI agent is currently
a small-business owner and sensibly told the editorial board that “the
best thing Congress could do for small businesses” is to “reduce rules,
regulations” and high corporate taxes. He has a sensible and principled
objection to the tunnel proposal for the 710 Freeway extension, whereas
Chu’s support for the proposal seems knee-jerk and out of touch with
contemporary planning and transit realities.
But Chu remains a better representative for the district, and one
reason is Orswell’s lack of experience in government. Rather than
starting at the council or school board level, or even by running for
state office, the Arcadian instead is once again going right for
Congress — and in a district where the registration numbers continue to
be very much against him.
Chu is bright and capable and has thrown
tremendous energy into the effort to shore up resources in the San
Gabriels, either as a national recreation area or a monument. But she
needs to do a better job of understanding why many in the area are
turned off by manipulative efforts in that process — busing in folks
from Pico Union, for instance, to pack the house at a town hall on the
San Gabriels, which left many local residents fuming on the outside of
But Chu’s cause is a good one, and she can do a fine job for the
district, especially if she adopts a more down-to-earth, less