By Raymond Nava
With East Los Angeles College’s 75th anniversary, many students may find ELAC’s history in the political sphere interesting. The campus has hosted many political events such as rallies from presidential candidates, some as recent as last year, to debates for local races. ELAC even has a former professor currently serving as an elected United States Representative in Congress, former professor Judy Chu.
ELAC has hosted two presidential rallies during the last two election cycles. During the 2020 Democratic Presidential primaries, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren held an election eve presidential rally before Super Tuesday, the Tuesday when many primary states hold elections. This includes California, during the month of March. Among the speakers were Warren and the first lady of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
During the 2016 Democratic Presidential primaries, Former Senator and democratic nominee Hillary Clinton held a rally at ELAC on May 5. Clinton’s visit to the campus drew protests among Hispanic groups as well as from supporters of her opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, also held a rally at ELAC during his first election for president in October of 1992.
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy held his rally at ELAC in 1984 for the Presidential election at the time he was endorsing former vice president Walter Mondale.
ELAC has hosted candidate forums and debates for local races as well. In 2018, ELAC hosted a candidate forum for candidates running for Los Angeles County Sheriff. The event was held before the primary election by the American Civil Liberties Union on April 21.
The forum was called “Elect Your Sheriff.” Candidates Robert Lindsey and Alex Villanueva were present at the forum, while incumbent sheriff Jim McDonnell was not present.
Villanueva and McDonnell were forced into a runoff after the primary. Another “Elect Your Sheriff” forum was slated to be held at ELAC in October but was cancelled. Villanueva eventually defeated McDonnell in the general election in November.
Perhaps the biggest connection ELAC has to the political sphere is current Representative Chu.
Chu was a psychology professor at ELAC for 13 years. Chu taught “Introduction to Psychology and Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality.” Prior to being elected to Congress in 2009, Chu served on the Monterey Park City council, first being elected in 1998. She continued teaching at ELAC during her term.
In fact, during her reelection bid for a second term, Chu stated that she would continue to teach at the campus regardless of whether or not she was reelected.
Chu would be elected to the United States House of Representatives in a 2009 special election for the then-numbered 32nd district. Chu currently represents California’s 27th district. ELAC is a part of the 27th district.
ELAC has been the site of many big political events in it’s long history. ELAC’s predominantly Hispanic student body makes it a high profile location for political candidates to reach out to the Latino community, especially in Democratic politics.