fbpx Elizabeth Ahlers Archives - Hey SoCal. Change is our intention.
The Votes Are In!
2023 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
View Winners →
Nominate your favorite business!
2024 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
Nominate →
Subscribeto our newsletter to stay informed
  • Enter your phone number to be notified if you win
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Home / Elizabeth Ahlers

State Senate candidate Elizabeth Wong Ahlers says all you need is love, life, liberty and a few good laws

The viewpoints expressed in the following interview are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

Four area councilwomen are vying for the District 25 California Senate seat. The state Senate seat in northeastern Los Angeles County includes the whole cities and communities of Sunland-Tujunga, Glendale, Pasadena, Altadena, Atwater Village, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, South Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Duarte, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont, San Antonio Heights and Upland plus most of Burbank. The 25th District race opened up after State Sen. Anthony Portantino threw his hat in the ring to fill Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s congressional seat. 

We caught up with Republican State Senate candidate Elizabeth Wong Ahlers, a member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, last week.

Q: Your website’s theme is love, life, liberty and laws. Why are these four factors so important to you? 

A: Well, so the way I see it is it all starts with love, and our lives are important. Liberty operates when good laws promote peace and prosperity. I like that. 

I see images of our beautiful natural physicality of California. The mountains? Yeah. They’re incredible. It’s such an amazing day. Right after the recent storm, it’s beautiful. This is like the best time of the year to be in California. Everything gets washed clean. So, there’s bright, warm sunshine. 

When you say California and what’s your passion for California, I kind of see it like an illustrated map where you can see the Napa Valley and the vineyards and then Yosemite and Half Dome and Monterey Bay and Malibu. It’s almost like that ride at California Adventure a few years ago when it was Soarin’ Over California. I loved that. You go from the Sierra Nevada’s and then sky skiing down to Malibu where there’s surfing and San Diego and then there’s Disneyland. 

There’s just so much to love about California. When I see my neighbors moving to Texas or Arizona and Florida and Idaho and family leaving, it’s sad for them because they like California too. 

Q: So why, in your opinion, do you think so many are leaving the state? 

A: Some of them are leaving because of the political climate and that, if they express their support for a certain political person or policy, then they’re afraid of repercussions. 

Do you remember that there was a time when people were afraid to put their American flag outside their house? I know. Because they are afraid, they would be attacked for having a flag for the country that we’re citizens of. Right? 

Q:  In recent years, violence toward Asian Pacific Islanders, Jews and other ethnicities has increased in our communities nationwide. What would you do to address this animosity? 

Well, yeah, that’s the thing. We have good laws that need to be enforced, for one thing, and enforced equally for the same kind of offense, whether the person is one color or another or one religion or another. So, we already have the laws, but they’re not enforced equally. And some people get away with stuff that they shouldn’t get away with. 

Police here in La Crescenta seem very evenhanded. They’re dealing with all kinds of people. So, I haven’t seen instances of racial profiling personally. 

District 25 is a great place to live, still. We don’t have a lot of the homeless tents and encampments where we can’t, you know, walk across the sidewalk. But what we need to do is we need to keep it nice for everyone. Right?

Q: And that was going to be my next question to you: how to address this serious issue?

A: LA has pumped in a huge amount of money addressing and ending homelessness and yet nothing seems to work. Everything is the same. I mean, it’s one of the reasons a lot of people leave LA — because of the homeless. 

Well, we’ve spent in California $22 billion in the last several years on homelessness. And in LA County, homelessness has increased by 10% in the last year. Kind of ridiculous, huh? 

So, it’s kind of like a pie in the sky kind of unreality that thinking that all these billions of dollars, which we don’t have with our now $73 billion deficit, so throwing more money at it is making it worse. Because a lot of homeless from other states are saying, “Hey, let’s go to California. They’ll take care of us.” Right, right? But at the taxpayer’s expense and the taxpayers are leaving California. This is the first time in California’s history that our population is going down. 

Q: What laws would you like to see changed or is there one item that has propelled you to throw your hat into this race? You mention that you are a ‘parental rights’ advocate? 

A: Well, some of the laws that actually Portantino has been passing that have made me especially angry because I am a defender of children. 

One is the parental rights issues, the transgender agenda that school curriculum has been pushed by the state-level legislature. I am angry because I feel that this transgender agenda is deceiving our children, telling them lies, that if you don’t want to be a boy, you can change that. If you’re not happy as a girl, if you get these hormones and surgeries, then you’ll be happy. That’s a lie. They’re lying to our children that they can be happier if they’re changing their language and their pronouns into something that’s not factual or changing their physicality. 

It’s a lie that that will make them happier because these are irreversible physical destruction to their developing bodies, and psychologically, the children are getting confused by the adults teaching them this. They would be much happier being affirmed in the reality of who they are. 

You obviously think that the state and any state or federal laws for LBGTQ in schools should not be adhered to. Is that correct, like what Portantino has offered? Right. I think that it is wrong that Portantino would criminalize parents — who are concerned about the school curriculum and the practices and agenda that are encouraging children to be confused — with parents being fined $1,000 or up to a year in jail. That’s crazy. I almost don’t have words for it because it’s so wrong. 

Is this one of the main reasons you got into the race? For children? I have been thinking about running since 2018, and that was before any of this crazy stuff happened. I feel like the timing is right for me because when I first started thinking about running for state legislature in 2018, the economy was good. Things were pretty calm. The schools … there were no Antifa riots going on against parents at Glendale Unified School District. 

It was pretty peaceful. 

I started preparing in 2018, and then when 2020 came and it seemed like the world was turning upside down, in 2021 things were getting even crazier. Then I realized this is my time. It’s a good thing I started preparing early because we can’t wait 20 years. I thought maybe I would have 20 years to actually run for office and have my kids launched into their careers. I was looking at some of my kids running for office, but once 2020 happened, I was like. I don’t have 20 years to wait. We have to do this now. 

Q: What’s your opinion on the national political landscape now?

A: I feel that it’s become a battle of good and evil. Politics used to look more like a crosstown rivalry, like UCLA versus USC. You’ve got your loyalties, and you have your school spirit, and you’ve pulled pranks on the other school. If you lose this year, you just say, “Okay, well, next year. We’ll get the trophy back next year.” 

There’s a lot more at stake now. It’s not just who gets the trophy this time. 

Q: Immigration, inflation and affordable housing are just a few items of great concern. How would you, as state senator, address these complex issues? 

A: I know it’s a complicated question, but just a couple of thoughts. Being on the town council here in La Crescenta, I see the same thing that we as residents are resisting, and it’s coming from the state level. We need to return this decision-making to the local level, to the city level, where the residents can put their pressure on their city council and the residents have a voice again. The residents are screaming or crying or yelling, so they’re trying to have a voice, but their power has been taken away from them. 

Q: In La Crescenta, do you have a preservation group, like we have here in Monrovia, to help combat ever-increasing overdevelopment? 

A: No. We have a land use committee that has standards that they have agreed, so the county has agreed with the standards. There are standards of how high the building can be and how much green margin around the structure, granting waivers to developers if they offer so much affordable housing. Then it always changes when the development starts going up. Oh, well, we’re going to need more room, blah, blah, blah. Right. Right. The numbers go down, and then the parking becomes a huge issue. 

We have way too many cars in California, so that’s obviously an issue. Right, and so then it’s the state that keeps on saying, oh, developers don’t have to provide parking for every family living in this building. For one of the proposed buildings in La Crescenta, they had shown plans for 56 spots to park bicycles. Oh, my goodness. They reduced the parking for cars. Wow. 

So, you know, we’re up here in the foothills, and I’m telling them people here cannot commute to work on a bicycle. Generally speaking, not anymore. And mothers, yeah, mothers taking their children to school or to tutoring or to games afterwards, they’re not towing them along on a bicycle. 

That’s absolutely true. I think the difference between the Democrat candidates that are in alignment with the current policies of the legislature and me is that I really identify with the people who live in District 25. And their families’ basic needs of being able to go to work and go to school and pay for gas and be able to choose a school for your child that you’re comfortable with. If you want to choose the public school that they’re listening to the parents and that you can work with the school instead of becoming the enemy. 

Q: Is this one of the reasons you said you’re for parental advocacy? Is that one of your key issues in your campaign? Because parents don’t have enough say in the local schools? 

A: Yes, and with Portantino also trying to take away the power of the school district that’s locally elected to choose the curriculum and have curriculums dictated and mandated from the state, that’s a big problem. Yes, it’s taking power away from the families and the people who live here and are paying the taxes. 

About 40% of our budget is going toward education. So, we should have a say in it even after our children are out of school.

Q: Do you think the current state superintendent of schools has made any difference? 

A: I think he’s termed out, it is Tony Thurmond. I don’t know honestly how he’s made an impact … but things have changed radically in so many different directions with regard to schools. And unfortunately, cities have really no control over schools. It’s just the school district and of course the state. 

Q: So,it’s kind of a quagmire in many ways, I guess?

A: Yeah, and I think it was AB 1078 that was taking away the authority of the school district and giving it to the state. I saw a video where (Thurmond) came down from wherever he is to Chino Valley school district. He was removed.  He was like out of control. It’s like, excuse me, you are in a dignified position. What are you doing, needing law enforcement to drag you out? Yeah, so I don’t think his approach has been helpful. 

(Wong-Ahlers was referring to a recent incident at a Chino school district meeting where Thurmond was ejected after he exceeded his time limit to make a point.)

Q: So, during your campaign are you visiting schools and talking with parents? What other means are you using to get your message across aside from interviews like this?

A: Well, the people have been finding me because they need someone who will represent their voice. Even two years ago, maybe three years now, a local pastor called me up and said, “What can we do about this? I can’t believe what I’m hearing is going on in the schools.” And I said, as a council member, I’m not sure if I can do anything, but as a neighbor, I’ll call people and see if they want to come and we’ll have a meeting. 

It did go across District 25 and that was two or three years ago. A lot of what has come down in Glendale School District a year ago, it was bubbling up earlier. And churches, pastors, parents, they have found me. 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to discuss that’s paramount to your campaign and your beliefs as a potential new state senator? 

A: Well, I’ll go back to love, lives, liberty and law. Love is something you cannot legislate. There’s policy and law, and the purpose of that is basically to, well, what I believe is that the purpose should be to restrain evil. 

But then love and liberty have to do with something you can’t legislate. And actually, the more you legislate, the less liberty you have for the good, peaceful citizens. And the motivation to love your neighbor as yourself comes from a joyful place in the heart. 

So, with hate crimes, there are laws that need to be enforced to restrain evil, but you can’t legislate love. But I feel that when good people have liberty, they express their love naturally. 

And when we look at the homeless problem, the immigration problem, people have compassion and want to love those that have suffering and need something. Our hearts, our human hearts want to help. … So where there’s love in our lives, liberty operates when good laws help promote peace and prosperity. So good laws have to restrain evil, but too many oppressive laws on peaceful, good people that live in District 25 make us sort of feel oppressed and burdened and harassed and afraid. 

Like, you know, if there’s so many laws, so many regulations about development, or so many regulations about having a restaurant business, or so many regulations about having an online business, then you start getting afraid of, “Oh man, the IRS is going to come after me, or I’m going to have this problem or that problem, it’s just too much, I’m going to Texas.” … So it’s sort of a philosophical thing with me, but it comes down to where we live our lives. 

How do we get water? And oh yes, water is a big thing. That’s like a basic to our life, 70% of our body is water. So, we need water, and we have this beautiful, beautiful recent storm, and you know, I hear 95% of it probably went to the ocean, but we have such plenty with the snow in the mountains, and we Americans are such creative innovators. I know, there’s already lots of ideas how to provide the water that we need at an affordable price.  

And it’s not a pie in the sky hope, or it’s not something like, “Oh no, we can never enjoy our life in California because we will always have a water problem.” That is a lie — that is a lie. So, we have hope, because there are great possibilities with our creative and innovative California people, but we need the liberty to exercise our great ideas.

Q: When you mention good and evil, is that based on religion — separation of church and state — or just basically what’s happened to the state and how the two parties differ so radically in the last few years? 

A: Well, when I look at the legislature, it’s such a super majority of Democrats that have brought on these consequences to our lives, our basic everyday lives that people are living. So that super majority is not a matter of differences between parties. It’s a matter of power that’s not checked and balanced with someone like me saying, excuse me, we’re not doing more of this because it’s making things worse, not better. There’s not enough Republicans up there to be listened to. 

And I know those guys. They’re working so hard, but there’s not enough of them. Are there some Democrats that you can work with that are on your side, basically? 

I’m just seeing in my mind again that picture of the illustrated colorful map of California with the California poppies. Oh, yeah. That’s a beautiful thought. I love that our deserts can bloom. My father worked on the California aqueduct he would always say, “I worked on that aqueduct.”

And so, we’re working on a commercial, editing California aqueduct, because that’s an example of our ingenuity that brings our families joy and peace and prosperity. And I just think of this water coming down and these kids playing in the sprinklers on the front lawn and just laughing. And we can do that. 

We can do that. The kids don’t have to be like stepping through cactus prickles. Right?

They can still play in the sprinklers on the front lawn. Right? 

I’ve been on a tour that looked at a water reclamation center. So that was interesting, but I think I have, I do think I have a fascination with water. So that is, that’s a big thing that I would, it’s just so basic to life. 

So that is a big passion of mine is the water and then the farms, you know, food and water. Just the basics, food and water. Can we help our farmers? Well, if we don’t have farmers, we don’t have food. If we don’t have water, we don’t have life. …

I’m a fifth generation Chinese Californian … and some of my ancestors in California, they farmed in Fresno and Bakersfield and I’ve got some farming in my blood. 

My dad worked on the aqueduct, and he and my grandfather were graduated from UC Berkeley. My grandfather was one of the first Chinese to graduate from the engineering school in Berkeley in the 1930s. And he worked on the Los Angeles Basin flood control system. So, I guess water is a big part of my family. 

Well, I think all you really need is love, water and a little bit of compassion for your neighbor.

Skip to content