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A Dialog With California’s First Gen Z Lawmaker

Good morning.

Not too long ago, I spoke with Alex Lee, who was elected final month to signify his San Jose-area district within the State Meeting after Kansen Chu, the incumbent, mentioned he wouldn’t run once more.

Mr. Lee, 25, beat out a crowded discipline within the Democratic main for the seat and has made headlines as California’s first Technology Z lawmaker. He’ll even be the primary brazenly bisexual particular person to turn into a state legislator.

Right here’s our dialog, edited and condensed for size and readability:

Congratulations, to begin with. Inform me just a little about your self and your background — and likewise the way you determined to run for State Meeting of all workplaces. State lawmakers in California in fact have numerous energy, however I don’t suppose individuals at all times notice it.

I’m 25 years outdated, the identical quantity as my district proper now, which is a truth I like. However once I began working this marketing campaign in June 2019, I used to be nonetheless working for Assemblymember Evan Low in his discipline district workplace. And earlier than that I had labored within the State Capitol for State Senator Henry Stern.

And each have been younger record-breakers of their very own. Henry was the first millennial within the State Senate, and Evan was the youngest Asian-American state legislator earlier than me.

I felt like we’ve a Democratic extremely, tremendous majority, proper? We’ve got all the manager positions. And but we will’t appear to do the issues which are large and progressive. We haven’t gotten common well being care, and even near it. We haven’t assured housing for everybody. Wealth inequality is uncontrolled. There’s one thing deeply incorrect about that. And I feel that frustration within the system drove me to run.

What are your high priorities?

The theme of what is going to hopefully be my first time period goes to be housing safety and affordability, and getting company cash out of politics. On Dec. 7, which is swearing-in day, I’m going to introduce a invoice to ban candidates in California from taking company cash or enterprise entity cash and to construct a publicly financed election system to incentivize individuals to choose out.

What’s your method to housing?

The large image is found out: the three P’s. It’s the manufacturing of housing, the preservation of present reasonably priced housing, and safety of working households and renters.

My final aim is to lean on public social housing as a powerful various means for the manufacturing of housing. Proper now, the for-profit market has principally a monopoly on housing manufacturing. And cities and localities principally can solely negotiate inside these confines.

I’m additionally eager to get rid of Costa-Hawkins.

You signify Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley — cities that haven’t traditionally been significantly pleasant to even multifamily improvement. What do you say to constituents who’re hesitant about denser improvement?

I’ll be sincere — it’s not the simplest dialog to have as a result of everybody has some opinion about it. However each single particular person in my district does have the identical needs. What they need is for housing to be reasonably priced for his or her children, for themselves, or their grandparents or households.

[Hear more from Gen Z in their own words.]

How has being Gen Z — and I’m speaking particularly about rising up as a digital native, residing by means of this period, not simply being in your 20s — formed the best way you suppose about these points?

Look, I dwell at residence and I’m going to dwell at residence, I feel, for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless it’s humorous as a result of I at all times see the feedback saying you’re 25, you’re not Gen Z, after which there’s all these totally different questions on —

Do you determine as Gen Z?

Sure, sure I do. On the finish of the day, it’s an arbitrary social assemble, however it’s an vital way of thinking. We’re a technology that has grown up and understood that we’re being screwed over.

After we take into consideration the millennial technology, I feel there are so much who cling onto that 1990s hope that you would be able to work onerous and it’ll all work out. And that’s type of altering. To not be utterly reductive.

However I feel there’s a distinct relationship when you perceive the world is completely screwed until we do one thing about it. Why not go down swinging as onerous as we will and go struggle the large struggle?

(This text is a part of the California As we speak e-newsletter. Join to get it delivered to your inbox.)


Monitor coronavirus circumstances in California.

  • San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, went to a socialite’s birthday dinner on the French Laundry the night time after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ill-conceived go to. And San Jose’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, admitted he violated pandemic restrictions and went to a household Thanksgiving dinner with individuals from 5 households. Unhealthy seems, a columnist wrote. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • The captain of the Conception, the dive boat that caught hearth off the coast of Santa Barbara, killing 34, has been charged with seaman’s manslaughter. [The New York Times]

  • Consultant Mike Garcia, a Republican, has gained a full time period within the Home for the seat vacated by Katie Hill. It was the final Home race to be known as within the state in a very good 12 months for Republicans, who claimed 4 seats they misplaced in 2018. [The New York Times]

Learn extra concerning the battle for the 25th Home District. [The New York Times]

  • California’s median residence worth hit $712,430 in September, closing out 4 months of report highs. [The New York Times]

  • Home-flippers have been enlisting previously homeless individuals to protect vacant homes in yet one more image of a damaged actual property market. [The New Yorker]

  • Over the weekend, California Freeway Patrol officers forcefully eliminated activists who have been in vacant homes owned by Caltrans in El Sereno. [LAist]

  • Renters are more and more untethered from workplaces in coastal areas. In order that they’re heading to the Inland Empire, the place rents are additionally rising. [The Orange County Register]

  • Salesforce mentioned it could purchase Slack for a monster $27.7 billion. It’s the newest in a spate of offers by tech corporations aimed toward capitalizing on the shift to distant work. [The New York Times]

  • The Cal State College software deadline has been prolonged to Dec. 15 in recognition of difficulties potential college students are going through within the pandemic. [The California State University]

For those who missed it, learn a dialog with the college’s new chancellor. [The New York Times]

  • Los Angeles determined to close down a coronavirus testing website at Union Station for a movie crew engaged on a reboot of “She’s All That” starring the TikTok star Addison Rae. Residents and neighborhood organizers have been outraged, and town reversed the choice. [The New York Times]


California As we speak goes dwell at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Inform us what you wish to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Had been you forwarded this electronic mail? Join California As we speak right here and learn each version on-line right here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported everywhere in the state, together with the Bay Space, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — however she at all times needs to see extra. Comply with alongside right here or on Twitter.

California As we speak is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.




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