Rep. Judy Chu makes special speaking appearance at Arcadia High
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Evelyn Tsoi
Want to hear a Congressional Representative speak? Visit Capitol Hill, turn on C-Span on YouTube, or head over to Arcadia High School. On Feb. 3, 2023, Arcadia High students, faculty, and district leaders gathered to hear Representative Judy Chu (D-28) speak about monumental issues and legislation on topics like gun control, abortion, and more. The event hosted by the Arcadia Young Democrats Club (AYD), called “What’s New with Rep. Chu,” was the first of its kind at Arcadia High.
“I’ve participated in political campaigns and heard members of Congress speak before, but having Rep. Chu speak to Arcadia High students in a space so familiar, so close to all of us is surreal,” Kai Wetterau, the secretary of Arcadia Young Democrats, expressed.
AYD members had initially met Rep. Chu and her staff at “Oktoberfest,” a gathering of Democratic leaders and volunteers throughout the Pasadena community. After a few months of correspondence, AYD was able to secure a speaking opportunity with Rep. Chu at Arcadia High School.
Rep. Chu, the first Chinese American woman ever elected to Congress, has had a 22-year career in politics. She has been elected to various political positions, such as the mayor of Monterey Park, assemblywoman of the California State Assembly, and most notably, the Congressional Rep. of California’s 28th District. Along her congressional journey, Rep. Chu founded the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus and serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, among other assignments.
Despite having decades of experience in Congress, however, nothing could have prepared Rep. Chu for the devastating mass shooting that occurred in her community of Monterey Park on Jan. 21, 2023. Eleven victims were killed while celebrating the Lunar New Year at the Star Ballroom.
“What was supposed to be a time for celebration quickly became a time of horror and grief,” Rep. Chu expressed.
“What I see is that the community is still afraid. They are traumatized by that shooting.”
When speaking with Arcadia High’s students, Rep. Chu expressed her fervent support for a ban on assault rifles and increased implementation of red flag laws–laws that prevent individuals who show signs of danger from obtaining a gun. When later asked a question specific to California’s gun laws, Rep. Chu further explained the need for comprehensive nationwide bans on assault rifles. With 39 mass shootings in the first three weeks of January, gun reform was at the top of Rep. Chu’s speaking agenda.
In addition, Rep. Chu discussed legislation for protecting a woman’s right to abortion.
“What I will always respect is the right of a woman to make a decision that is best for her. It is totally not right for a politician in Washington D.C. to dictate a right that should be that woman’s [right] alone.”
With respect to reproductive freedom for women, Rep. Chu recently authored the Women’s Health and Protection Act, which made an appearance on the House of Representatives floor. The legislation was first drafted in 2013 and has made several re-appearances since.
Despite discussing complex issues like gun violence and abortion rights, event attendee, Arcadia High sophomore Bradley Sukwanto felt Rep. Chu effectively managed to simplify the issues and communicate clearly to audiences with varying political knowledge.
“I didn’t feel overwhelmed by anything Rep. Chu was saying, and I didn’t feel lost, which was comforting because I know absolutely nothing about politics,” Sukwanto expressed. “She articulated her thoughts really well, making things sound simple even if they are likely really complicated things happening in the background.”
When Rep. Chu initially started her career in politics in 1985 as a Board Member for the Garvey School District in Rosemead, she never knew she would become a congresswoman. There was one thing, however, that she was certain about.
“I wanted to make a difference for my community and for the future of America,” Rep. Chu confided.
“It all started when I was fighting the English Only Movement in Monterey Park […] the last straw was when they [longtime residents] wanted only English to be spoken in the city, so we fought it.”
Throughout her political career, Rep. Chu has fought not only for rights that she’s passionate about but also for diversity and inclusion. She noted an absence of voices at the city, state, and national levels that collectively led to her running for the House CA-49 seat in 2009.
“The fact that you guys are starting so early really makes me happy because I wasn’t as conscious as you when I was in high school,” Rep. Chu remarked.
“The fact that you are educating yourself on all these issues is really wonderful, and you give me hope for the future.”
To learn more about future events hosted by Arcadia Young Democrats, follow their Instagram page @arcadiayoungdemocrats. For more information about Rep. Chu, visit chu.house.gov, and to learn more about the courses, programs, and clubs offered at Arcadia High School, visit ahs.ausd.net.