Q: Why are you running for the Legislature?
A: I have been fortunate to have had the chance to pursue my dreams. Now I look to ensure that for future generations. My neighbors in Vancouver and SW Washington deserve the best representation possible in Olympia, and that is why I am running for Legislative District 49. It’s the best way I know to pay it forward.
Q: What does the American Dream mean to you?
A: The American Dream has deep significance to me, as I was born in Korea. I was adopted at an early age and brought over to the United States. My U.S. citizenship is something I truly cherish. I am proud to say that I worked very hard to earn it.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I began my career as a background pianist in Juneau, Alaska, Holland-America Cruise Line in the Caribbean, and the Coeur D’Alene Resort in Idaho.
I eventually decided to settle down and began my career in sales in 2001 with Michelle’s Piano Company in Portland. My day job evolved into being the general manager of a music company, where I gave lessons and hosted established and upcoming jazz artists. But I looked to do more, and I started to give back to others by being a musician and pianist at my local church.
Q: What other involvement have you had in the community over the years?
A: Having children in the Evergreen School District inspired me to become vice president of its foundation for three years starting in 2010. In that role, I brought people together to try and make Evergreen one of the best school districts in Washington. We worked to strategically place resources in areas that would foster imagination, innovation, and inspiration among the district’s students.
In May 2012, I began serving on the board of directors for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and still hold that position. I have also been a president of the local Parent-Teacher Association and been involved in my area Neighborhood Association board.
Q: What do you consider the most important issues facing the Washington Legislature?
A: Education, transportation, and housing.
Q: Why do you feel education is so important?
A: The modern workforce has changed in ways that I would never have imagined as a child, or even in my early adulthood. In keeping with this rapid progress, our education system needs to become better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await our students after they graduate. Similarly, our businesses need to know that the workforce they require will be available and ready to help them innovate in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Quality education can make the difference between our children achieving their dreams and having their potentials squandered. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child any longer; it takes a connection to a global network. The talents of teachers, the additions of modern technologies, the participation and empowerment of parents, and close collaboration with our local and global community- are all crucial bricks on our children’s educational journeys.
Q: What is the best way we can help our students succeed?
A: Today, too many decisions about students happen in state capitols, where politicians and bureaucrats are more and more removed from our community.
The best way to help our students succeed is to develop the partnerships between professional teachers, engaged parents and supportive community members and businesses. This is all best done at the local level, as I’ve been doing for years now.
Q: How do you feel about public transportation?
A: Vancouver has a large enough population that it is possible to have a public transportation system adequate enough to meet current needs. I believe it is possible for our infrastructure to handle the demands of both automobile and bicycle traffic. By improving upon our current system and carefully planning our next steps, we will reduce the congestion and inevitable delays whenever there is a bridge lift on Interstate 5.
Q: Are you opposed to having light rail as a component of the I-5 bridge replacement project?
A: No. If we do decide to upgrade the bridge, we will have the unique opportunity to draw federal funds to help pay for it. The likelihood of receiving federal funds increases if light rail is a part of the project. And this would give us the opportunity to take care of our environment with carbon-free transport.
For these reasons, I support having light rail as part of the bridge replacement. However, I would make sure that it is completed in a way that makes sense and does not compromise our ability to transport vehicle and freight traffic.
Q: Are there any recent decisions involving transportation that you disagree with?
A: Yes. I disagree with the approach that the Vancouver City Council took last February. The body voted to eliminate 400 parking spots on Columbia Street to make way for a bike lane. I understand that to be the wrong approach to take in transportation as this does not weigh the immediate versus long term priorities for Vancouver.
Q: What do you think would be the best way to reduce freeway congestion around Vancouver?
A: One of the central positions of my platform that will reduce congestion across the Columbia is growth in the number of jobs available in Vancouver. Bringing more family-wage jobs to our home community will mean fewer residents commuting to Portland and I-5 and I-205 clearing up of standstill traffic.
The Port of Vancouver is one example of an underutilized source of the kinds of jobs that we need in this area, and I intend to help grow many other industries for a thriving Vancouver job market.
As Washington State Legislative District 49 Representative, I intend to do everything I can to make sure that Vancouver’s true potential is realized. With your vote, we will be able to have our industries become the economic drivers that they were always intended to be. I will tirelessly work to create transportation that offers us options, environmental stewardship, and a long-awaited ease of mobility for our beloved city.
Q: How has Vancouver been affected by housing policies in nearby areas?
A: In many ways, Vancouver has become a bedroom community for people who commute to Portland for work. Many local residents used to live in Portland but moved to Vancouver because they wanted housing that was more affordable and family friendly.
Q: In what ways do government policies help make housing less affordable?
A: One has to do with the amount of land available for housing. If land use and zoning laws become too stringent, it creates an artificial scarcity of developable land. The land that is available and zoned for housing then becomes unnecessarily expensive.
And land costs are only part of what ultimately becomes the sale price of a home. Various fees and permits charged by government agencies also contribute to the cost of housing. A major cost comes in the form of property taxes.
Q: What are some other factors that increase the cost of housing?
A: Property taxes are paid directly by homeowners. But renters also feel the squeeze of any increases on property taxes because they are passed on to them in the form of higher rent.
Q: How would you address housing issues as State Representative?
A: As your House Legislative District 49 Representative, I will work to ensure that state government policies don’t make housing less affordable for you and your family. That includes opposing any proposals that will further limit the amount of land that housing can be built on and standing firm against the passage of higher property taxes.
We want Vancouver to remain a beautiful place where families live, work, and relax. Our city is growing rapidly, and we look to welcome that expansion with stable homes for our new and current residents. To make that happen, we need policies in place that will prevent housing from becoming more scarce or expensive than it needs to be.