Second-generation Korean American David Kim is running for Congress to represent district CA34 in the U.S. House of Representatives with a goal of ending “lip service” within politics and bringing power back to the people.
The dire circumstances of COVID-19 set the stage for the biggest issues Kim is fighting for, he said. He wants to give Angelenos “A Floor to Stand On” by easing financial anxiety by fighting for solutions like Medicare for All, Universal Basic Income, Homes Guarantee and the Green New Deal.
“This is my first time running for office,” Kim said. “I don’t know everything and I’m not claiming to, but what I do know is that a government is supposed to be of the people, for the people, by the people—and it’s not that right now.”
Kim, who was formerly an immigration lawyer, said he’s not looking to be a part of politics for a long time. He said he is running right now because “it’s really urgent for us to elect people who have a heart and vision and who really want to bring government back to the people.”
He has received endorsements from other progressive politicians and groups such as Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, California Progressive Alliance, Progressive Asian Network for Action and The Trojan Left at USC.
His campaign is 100% grassroots funded, as he does not accept donations from large corporations or PACs. This sets him apart from his running mate, incumbent Jimmy Gomez (D), who receives donations from real estate developer PACs, police PACs, Facebook, Google and Verizon, according to Kim’s campaign website.
“It’s a bedrock of corrupt politics,” he said of Los Angeles’ climate, mentioning how politicians accepting these contributions creates a major conflict of interest. He also noted how private prisons fund many corporations from which politicians accept money.
“Why in the world would you profit off of human suffering? And yet our politicians and my opponent are totally fine taking private prison money,” he said.
Gomez was elected to Congress in June 2017 and is endorsed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressional Progressive Caucus and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
In his endorsement statement, Garcetti credited Gomez for leading “landmark expansions” of paid family leave as well as funding domestic violence prevention and expanding access and funding for higher education.
However, Kim said during Gomez’s time in office, he has neglected to address Downtown’s growing need for affordable housing.
“I don’t think any of us have heard my opponent (Gomez) talk about the lack of affordable housing or people not having homes during the first year, second year or third year after he went into office—when that was something that he campaigned about,” Kim said. Gomez hasn’t done anything for Skid Row or the other communities of unhoused people Downtown, he added.
Los Angeles cannot afford more “lip service,” especially during this dire time of evictions during the era of COVID-19, he said. “Our district is the 10th poorest in the nation. We deserve more from our elected officials,” his campaign website states.
“We need a New New Deal like FDR had from before because the people are distressed,” he said. “People wake up every day, not knowing how to pay their rent. They’re waking up in this chronic economic anxiety every day and life isn’t supposed to be that.”
If elected, Kim said the first thing he wants to do is look for ways to create social housing units. He is a supporter of the Homes Guarantee, which is a list of demands for federal action for housing in regard to COVID-19.
He is also a supporter of the Homes for All Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), which would authorize the construction of 12 million new public housing units as well as private and permanently affordable rental units across the United States.
If that bill passes, he would be sure the money allocated to Los Angeles would be put into identifying and repurposing unused buildings rather than wasting taxpayer money creating new ones, he said.
Universal Basic Income (UBI), a concept recently popularized by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, is also a policy Kim supports.
Kim is among the first congressional candidates in the United States to partner with a private company to offer a limited Universal Basic Income trial for 25 individuals impacted by COVID-19 across the CA34 district. Steady, the private technology company funding the trial, helps workers find jobs, manage personal finances and increase their income.
“We have to acknowledge that now the norm is to have two to three jobs to make ends meet when it shouldn’t be,” he said, adding that UBI is a good start to solve this dire issue.
Los Angeles needs real progressive leaders, Kim said. He looks to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for inspiration on how to co-govern with the people. Ocasio-Cortez serves as a U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district.
Kim said it may look like he’s just providing lip service, too, “but no, keep me accountable—that’s what Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is doing,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez hosts monthly neighborhood bureau town halls in different parts of her district where she talks about legislation with her constituents before she votes on them, he said. This is how she holds herself accountable and why she has such high approval and voter ratings, he added. He said if elected, he plans to govern in a similar fashion.
Another view that Kim and Ocasio-Cortez share is support for the Green New Deal. In Los Angeles, the growing issue of heat islands, smog, an unsteady water supply and a lack of widespread public transportation are major environmental issues Kim emphasized. “We’ve been completely irresponsible in everything.”
The effects of climate change hit low-income communities the hardest, Kim said, emphasizing how many of these issues are intertwined. The Green New deal is a major potential solution, Kim said, but it means nothing if a corporate interest scheme remains a part of politics.
“When you say you’re a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal—and I’m talking about my opponent—show us that you are. Stop taking money from oil and gas company executives.”
Another major stance Kim campaigns on is LGBTQ, gender, sex and identity equality. Kim holds these issues very close to his heart, he said.
“So many times, we look at people who are living unhoused as ghosts,” he said. “Why are we looking at people that are in the queer community as less than human beings as well?”
He plans to support any and all legislation that will fight to protect the lives and prosperity of the growing LGBTQ community across the CA34 district. “We must still work to stamp out discrimination in education, employment—everything,” he said.
“For me, I was always kind of ashamed to be gay and queer up until a few years ago. But now is the time where we just really need more queer people on the forefront calling for action and really breaking all the stereotypes that have worked against us.”
The election is November 3.