The 49th: Lin and Chau
By Sean Telles
October 31, 2012 • 458 views
By Sean Telles
The state assembly race for the 49th district between Ed Chau (D) and Matthew Lin (R), in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, is a tale of a new district based on changing demographics. The first campaign with these new borders is putting to the test community credentials, political toughness, and the power of Congresswoman Judy Chu photographs.
The new 49th district is a combination of regulations and changing populations. According to wedrawthelines.gov, the criteria for the new districts was to comply with the US Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, keep communities connected, minimize division, have a fairly regular shape, and not discriminate a political party. In terms of demographics, this year USC recently named San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia, Rosemead, and El Monte as some of the fastest increasing Asian and Pacific Islander population growth in all of Southern California. Appropriately, the new boundaries of the 49th district seem to incorporate these results.
However, this isn’t a race of ethnicity, but of community, and both Chau and Lin are local leaders who have spent time working both in civil service positions and private-sector community work. Chau is a lawyer who’s worked as a school board member in Montebello and a volunteer pro-tem judge, while Lin is a doctor who’s served on city council, including the position of San Marino Mayor. Chau recently led an immigration forum and Lin promotes himself as a longtime provider of health care to the needy.
Each candidate has chosen a main speaking point. Chau’s target is improving education and Lin’s mantra is jobs. (The details of how these visions would play out are broad, although both candidates support the re-establishment of redevelopment agencies.) Another distinguishing point is how the candidates describe themselves. On his website, Chau is listed as an “elected official, attorney, and Judge Pro Tem” while Lin is “Surgeon, educator, and businessman.”
How they describe each other is not so pleasant. Lin has repeatedly called Chau “a trial lawyer” and Chau has implied Lin is a tax cheat. Lin accuses Chau of moving into the new district less than a year ago and has labeled him a career politician. While Chau views himself as a West San Gabriel Valley native, having growin up in Montebello and spending time in Alhambra and South Pasadena.
Two current, heated topics are Lin’s recent comments in a Chinese newspaper and Chau’s publication of Lin’s wife’s social security number. According to the Chau camp, Lin responded to a Chinese newspaper’s request for a comment on a past sexual harassment case at the Garfield Medical Hospital by saying he was out of the country; The Chau camp contends Lin was not only in the country at this time but was in fact giving a state of the city address in San Marino. On the other side of the table, the Lin camp publicized a legal filing done on behalf of Matthew Lin’s wife, after the Chau campaign published her social security number in a mail marketing publication, accusing her of owing taxes on a business they say is connected to the candidate. Both sides deny wrongdoings and accuse the other side of distracting from the main issues.
A final interesting commonality is political powerhouse Representative Judy Chu. Even though she has officially endorsed Ed Chau, both candidates have sent out flyers with photographs standing beside her. Lin is a long-time contributor to her campaigns and uses her image to illustrate his bipartisanship vision. Ed Chau has his online homepage image alongside Chu to represent his lineage, taking the place of her soon-to-term-out husband, state Assemblyman Mike Eng – a position once held by Chu.
It’s said that people get the government they deserve. After following this campaign and seeing many people share each other’s lives, cultures, and hard work to get their candidate elected, I believe our next Assembly member will be one of the best in Sacramento. No matter the outcome, the new districts have given the 49th constituents a close up view of representational democracy, through which many locals have built new bridges during political community events. Both candidates have a vision to make the community shine and one will soon have that chance.