SENATE RACE 2024 - Monterey Park City Councilmember Yvonne Yiu has so far contributed at least $2.8 million of her own funds to her campaign for the State Senate. Some voters may remember that she contributed nearly $6 million to her campaign for State Controller in 2022. Despite that, she came in third, with only 15% of the vote. This time around, she’s digging into her deep pockets to flood the district with expensive mailers in an attempt to defeat Alhambra Vice Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez. Unfortunately, her campaign mailers are filled with lies, half-truths, and misleading statements.
For example, she claims that she wants to “combat gun violence.” But when she had a chance to demonstrate her commitment to this cause, she was missing-in-action.
On the night after the January 2023 mass shooting in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed at the Star Dance Studio, Yiu didn’t show up to a meeting with Governor Gavin Newsom at Monterey Park City Hall.
Nor did she show up to an emergency City Council meeting 10 days after the shooting in which the City declared a local state of emergency. She was absent from the vote to allow for federal and state support, and to establish the Monterey Park Healing Community Fund in partnership with the California Community Foundation to distribute funds to victims.
At the first City Council meeting Yiu attended after the mass shooting, she shared that she had just returned from a luxury vacation to Egypt. It was her Council colleague, Mayor Jose Sanchez, who called for gun safety legislation at the February 15, 2023 meeting.
On March 1, 2023, the City Council passed a measure to establish buffer zones between firearms dealers and sensitive areas in Monterey Park. Over the course of the year since the mass shooting, Yiu has remained largely silent on gun safety at City Council meetings, simply voting in line with her colleagues, all of whom have endorsed Alhambra Vice Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez for the state Senate seat.
On the issue of abortion, Yiu claims to be pro-choice. But when she had a chance to take a stand, she failed to do so. On February 2, 2022, she killed a resolution to declare Monterey Park a Reproductive Freedom City. She was the final vote and she abstained, causing the resolution to fail. In contrast, in December 2021, Perez led the effort to declare Alhambra a Reproductive Freedom City. That’s why Planned Parenthood and every other reproductive rights organization have endorsed her.
Yiu is also a no-show on environmental matters. She didn’t even bother to complete the Foothill Environmental Coalition questionnaire. In contrast, the group gave Perez a perfect 100% score, joining the Sierra Club and California Environmental Voters as supporters.
Yiu’s husband, Albert Young, is the Chief Administrative Officer and a major stockholder at Apollo Medical Holdings, a sprawling for-profit $1.4 billion conglomerate of health-related enterprises. Part of the Apollo Medical empire is a company called AHMC, that owns many hospitals in the Los Angeles area, including Monterey Park Hospital, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, and Alhambra Hospital Medical Center. The healthcare industry has been good to Young and Yiu. He is estimated to have a net wealth of at least $45 million.
Yiu spent her career in the banking and financial services industry. She worked for Citicorp Investment Services, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, and E*Trade Financial before becoming CEO of Key West, an investment company, from 2010 to 2018. Key West was censured and fined $22,500 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for improperly depositing investor funds in a real estate trust account owned by one of the fund’s managing members. The FIRA also revoked the firm’s investment advisor certificate.
In contrast to Yiu’s ties to the corporate world, Perez has been an effective grassroots activist and coalition-builder. Her accomplishments on the Alhambra City Council include passing an ordinance to cap third-party fees for delivery charges during the pandemic, establishing “hero pay” for essential workers, passing Alhambra’s first Project Labor Agreement, and hiring social workers and mental health professionals to join the City’s public safety team. She also worked effectively with state and federal partners to secure funding for Alhambra, including $670,000 to establish Alhambra’s sustainability plan and $25 million for the City’s first community center.
Yiu and Perez are running to replace State Senator Anthony Portantino, who is running for Congress. Senate District 25 includes the cities of Alhambra, Arcadia, Claremont, Glendale, Glendora, La Canada Flintridge, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Temple City, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland. The other candidates in the race are Sandra Armenta, Teddy Choi, and Elizabeth Ahlers. Voters have until March 5, 2024 to cast their ballots.
(Peter Dreier, a long-time Pasadena resident, is professor of political science at Occidental College.)