With only weeks until election day, congressional hopeful Democrat Jay Chen visited Cal State Fullerton Tuesday to talk to students to gain their support to defeat incumbent congressman Ed Royce, who showed a commanding lead in the June primary.
“Students make up the core of my campaign, and this campaign I really see it as a way to inspire students to action. Not just for me, but just for themselves because they don’t really see people who look like them, or their age, running for office and talking about these issues,” said Chen.
The non-partisan event was sponsored by the Economics Association at CSUF, whose members invited Chen to tell his story of success.
“We hope this will inspire students that with the right passion and skills you can go as far as you dream,” said Diane Romero, president of the Economics Association.
Born in Kalamazoo, Mich., Chen began his life as a first-generation American after his parents immigrated from Taiwan. Chen went on to open his own business and gain a seat on the Hacienda-La Puente School Board after he graduated with honors from Harvard University.
Chen said he implemented edible school gardens to get healthier foods in schools. In addition, he also advocated for a Mandarin language class in order to teach students a second language.
Now running for the 39th District for Congress, Chen said he will work to get students and young people more involved in the voting process.
“I think one of the problems is when you turn 18, you’re in a big transition in your life. You might be leaving home for the first time, you’re in a new city so you might not feel as connected to this city,” Chen said. “I think the decision would be much more moderated if young people were voting, so that’s why young people have been such a big part of our campaign.”
Chen said he plans work to keep loan rates for students down.
“I am going to fight to ensure that your student loan rates do not double, as is what almost happened with this last congress,” said Chen. “I think it’s unacceptable that we’re giving loans to companies, big businesses, at one percent (interest) or less, that’s practically free to lend money to companies, but we’re asking our students to pay up to seven percent for their education and that just cripples us.”
Chen also said undercutting education and spending more on the prison system is doing students and the state a disservice.
“It costs about $50,000 to incarcerate someone—it costs about $10,000 to educate someone, but for some reason our priorities have gotten completely out of line. Now we’re spending more on the prison system than our higher education,” Chen said.
According to Chen, education continues to be cut because younger people, students especially, are not as likely to vote.
“When Congress makes cuts they’re going to make cuts to those who aren’t going to make any noise,” Chen said. “That’s why it’s so important that you vote… If you don’t vote, you’re not going to have a voice. So I really hope that I see your vote in politics and you take responsibility for your own future and voting in the coming election.”
Amani Johnson, 19, a nursing major, agreed with Chen’s perspective on education and schooling.
“I graduated from high school about two years ago and I always thought about how much they could have changed things that they taught us,” said Johnson.
Johnson agreed with Chen on the need for more programs that will teach different languages.
“It’s more important to have (different languages) going out into the business world, for example people who speak Spanish and English have more opportunities,” Johnson said. “It’s more important to have different languages going out into the business world, for instance getting a job, people who speak Spanish and English have more opportunities.”
Chen’s also said he supports Proposition 30, which will raise sales tax and upper-income taxes. The extra revenue is intended to go back to elementary and secondary public schools in California.
“We have to pay for what we use, and if we want to have an educated workforce, we need to have a public school system that’s financed and that needs to be paid for,” Chen said.