After reaching third place in the nonpartisan primary in March 2020, Democrat Annie Cho announced her campaign for the 38th Assembly District midterm elections in 2022.
Cho immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1971, which at the time was under the rule of the dictator Park Chung-hee following a 1961 military coup d’etat.
“Never did I think to preserve democracy in the United States,” Cho said reflecting on South Korea’s history in the 1960s with the state of American democracy today.
While living in San Francisco, Cho was disappointed to see violations of human rights in prisons. She helped work to have Chol Soo Lee, a Korean American immigrant, taken off of death row while he served ten years in prison. Lee was wrongfully convicted of a San Francisco Chintaown gang member’s death. While in prison, he was sentenced to death for killing another prisoner – where Lee claimed self-defense.
Lee’s case was made popular throughout the Korean American immigrant community in San Francisco through Korean newspapers, Cho said.
Among many feats in her career, Cho also helped found the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus for the Democratic National Committee in 1980, served as a legislative aide to United States Senator Alan Cranston (D-California), was previously director of public relations at LA 18 KSCI-TV, produced and hosted the Emmy-nominated “LA Seoul” public affairs series, and served as a commissioner of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power, according to her website.
As a Korean-American, Cho believes that her identity and unique lived experience will contribute to the betterment of California and the nation as a whole.
“We need representation of all women…. women of color and immigrant women have so much in our lived experiences,” Cho said.
Additionally, as a working mother, Cho said she understands the challenges working families face.
“Stimulus checks and the rent moratorium will end soon,” Cho said about families who remain dependent on COVID-19 economic protections. Cho also discussed how COVID-19 has affected the community that she represents, specifically concerning its economic devastation.
“Many people who left their jobs can’t return because businesses closed permanently… we need to figure out a way we can provide safety measures for workers and address situations of hybrid working,” she said. Additionally, Cho expressed her disappointment with people not getting vaccinated, which has resulted amid the rising number COVID-19 cases further aggravated by the Delta variant across much of the country.
On the issue of affordable housing in Los Angeles County and considering the average rent in the area (in 2019, it was estimated to be $1,577 according to the American Community Survey) and minimum wage, some people have to work 2-4 jobs to have a shared roof over their heads, Cho said.
“People can’t afford to live where they work,” she continued, adding that now is the time to fix the faults in our economic system.
“I don’t want to go back to normal, I want to be better,” Cho said.
She also encouraged communities to practice self-care and self-love in the continuing wake of catastrophe COVID-19 has brought on the economy and people’s health.
“These are very stressful times, and we need to wash our hands, physically distance, and wear our masks just to take that extra care for ourselves… unless I’m healthy, I can’t contribute to the healthiness of my neighborhood,” Cho said.
Much like the severity of COVID-19, tackling the severity of today’s drought and wildfires will also be a great challenge for Americans.
“We need to be constantly aware of what is happening around us,” she said. Cho noted how marginalized communities are impacted the most by wildfires, pointing out the ash that flows into communities with less flora. “We need bold measures in vegetation management and measures that train and protect firefighters and those in frontlines battling wildfires and upgrading equipment,” she continued.
Focusing on next year’s race, Cho said that we need our assemblymember to be “the voice of the district,” directing her attention at incumbent Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares (R-Santa Clarita) for not holding former president Donald Trump accountable.
“Protecting democracy is job No. 1… it is our way of life,” Cho said. “I will represent the voice, people and face of AD-38.”
Cho was the top Democrat to run in the 2020 election for the AD-38 race and raised the most money.
In pursuit of the California Assembly seat, Cho assured that her future plans to continue to interact with constituents will always comply with all health and safety measures issued by L.A. County.
Cho is the third candidate to hop into the race, following Pilar Schiavo and Jonathan Ahmadi. During last year’s nonpartisan primary election, Cho came third behind Valladares at first place and Republican Lucie Lapointe Volotzky at second.
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