Jay Chen (center), George Takei and Chris Aihara at the groundbreaking for the Metro Regional Connector in 2014. Chen and Aihara served as co-chairs of the Regional Connector Community Leadership Council, representing Little Tokyo and the Arts District.

HACIENDA HEIGHTS — Democrat Jay Chen, president of the Board of Trustees at Mt. San Antonio College, has announced his campaign for the 39th Congressional District seat in the 2022 election.

The district is currently represented by Republican Young Kim, who defeated Democratic incumbent Gil Cisneros in November after losing to Cisneros in 2018.

Chen was a candidate for the seat in 2020 but withdrew before the March primary. In the 2012 race for the 39th District, Chen lost to Republican incumbent Ed Royce.

“As our country unites to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and the political divisions that have prolonged the crisis, it’s more important than ever that we elect leaders who understand the challenges that our communities face, and who can tackle these issues on day one,” Chen said in a statement. “I’ve always believed in service, hard work, and giving back to my community. It’s why I joined the military to serve my country, and it’s why I’ve always looked up to my parents, who worked hard as business owners after immigrating here. I’m running for Congress because we need principled leaders who are dedicated to making government work for the people again.

“In the United States Navy, I learned that it doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you work together to complete the mission. While Young Kim would rather listen to extreme Republican insiders and special interests, I’ll work to restore integrity and accountability in government and put people first. That means ensuring rapid and free vaccinations for everyone and relief for small businesses so that they can reopen immediately, get back to work, and grow. And I’ll work across the aisle to invest in education and classroom funding so our schools can reopen safely. I’ll always put the people of the 39th District first.”

The district, which covers parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, includes Fullerton, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Brea, Buena Park, Anaheim Hills, Placentia, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, Chino Hills, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights.

Jay Chen

The child of immigrants from Taiwan, Chen attended Hacienda Heights public schools and earned a Navy ROTC scholarship to attend Harvard University. After studying at Peking University on fellowship, he joined a global strategy consulting firm, where he worked extensively with Fortune 500 businesses in the software and logistics industries to manage mergers, build new products, and streamline operations before moving home and starting his own local real estate business.

As president of the Hacienda-La Puente School Board, he created innovative programs, including Mandarin-language immersion classes, a culinary arts program, and free SAT tutoring. He has also utilized his experience as a Harvard admissions interviewer to provide free college application workshops to students so that they can improve their higher education opportunities.

In the U.S. Navy Reserves, Chen, a lieutenant commander, has served from the Korean Peninsula to the Middle East. As part of Operation Inherent Resolve, he led an intelligence team and helped bring justice to the terror group ISIS, and played a key role in the military’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East.

Chen and his wife Karen live in Hacienda Heights, where they are raising their two boys, Lincoln and Carver.

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