This past weekend I had the opportunity of attending a couple events for my office placement with California State Assemblymember Muratsuchi, one of which was a coffee chat (sort of a casual town hall) in my hometown, Palos Verdes. This was my first time being able to hear directly from constituents about whichever concerns they had about the community, and as someone who grew up in Palos Verdes, I also felt I had a personal tie to these issues. I had expected it to be a small community event, with about 15-20 people, but close to 75 people ended up attending, crowding the local market that was hosting us. There were a few expected topics that were covered, such as SB 649, which has received overwhelming opposition from Palos Verdes, and the cap and trade bills that are being voted on this week (AB 617 and AB 398), which got a more mixed response. SB 562, the single payer healthcare bill, was also brought up, another bill that received mixed response among the audience. There were some more nuanced topics that were brought up as well, such as banning the use of a specific type of pesticide that has been proven to cause cancer on PV school grounds.
Although there were some divisive subjects that were brought up at this discussion, the one encompassing factor at this event was that people were civil and polite, both to each other and to Assemblymember Muratsuchi. There were definitely those who disagreed with each other, but no one was abrasive or disruptive, and especially in this current political climate, this was a very encouraging experience.
I applied to be a CAUSE (Center for Asian Americans United in Self Empowerment) Leadership Academy intern not only to learn more about Asian American issues, but to also learn more about the issues that my district, and more specifically, my hometown faced. Although I grew up in Palos Verdes and lived here for 18 years, I was never politically involved with my community, and therefore grew up pretty uninformed about the issues that faced the people around me. This event enabled me to learn much more about the concerns of the citizens of Palos Verdes, as well as listen to the different perspectives and personal experiences that people have had with relation to each topic. While being Asian American is an extremely vital part of my identity, being from Palos Verdes has undeniably shaped much of who I am today as well, and I hope to be a better representative of both communities moving forward from this.