Last November, Assemblymember Alex Lee made history by becoming the state’s first openly bisexual legislator and the youngest Asian-American ever elected to office in California. The 25-year-old Democrat represents the state’s 25th District, which encompasses parts of the Bay Area, including San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont.
Shortly after winning the election, Asm. Lee introduced his very first bill, the Clean Money Act of 2021. If passed, the bill would ban corporate donations in state elections. He tells Inside the Issues he created Assembly Bill 20 to root out special interest money and empower everyday citizens to support the candidates they like.
“I am living proof that you can be elected even in statewide competitive races without taking all this dirty money from corporations,” Lee said. “Corporations stand at a real impediment to progress, whether it’s climate change or health care, and we need to be addressing the core root of a lot of issues and impediments.”
Just four years ago, Lee was student body president at UC Davis studying political science. Since graduating, he’s worked in the offices of Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park).
In the lead up to his campaign, Lee drove part-time for an app-based delivery service before being elected into office. The Gen Z lawmaker currently lives at home and says each of his past experiences has helped him focus on inclusive philosophies throughout his time in the California Legislature.
“My people-centered policy framework is given my perspective and experiences as an individual. I do indeed live with my mom because I have the great privilege to be able to do that. A lot of folks, even those who have a nice professional job and make a good living can only afford to live in the Bay Area because they have family here,” Lee explained. “It’s a real pressing need that everyone experiences the housing crisis this way and it needs to be addressed and that’s why affordable housing is also one of my top priorities.”
The new legislator has been assigned to several Assembly committees, including Budget, Privacy and Consumer Affairs, and Transportation. Lee notes he’s particularly excited to fight for greater transit access and expansion on the Transportation Committee.
“When I was growing up between two households to go to school I would have to take my local bus and light rail system and it would take almost an hour just to go to and from school, so I even knew from an early age how important public transit is. And then when I was student body president at UC Davis, we were directly running the third-largest transit agency by ridership in the state,” Lee added. “I’m going to be bringing that experience and expertise to the Transportation Committee to make sure there are more modes of transportation besides just being stuck in a car.”
California’s youngest lawmaker is optimistic he’ll be able to accomplish his goals during the 2021-2022 session to ensure more affordable housing options for Californians, cease evictions during the pandemic, and work on getting corporate money out of politics.
“I am very secure in where my values are and where they come from and that’s been my community and I’m going to be doing things in their best interest and not from any fancy things that lobbyists might throw at me, it’s always going to be grounded in the people and that’s how I choose to govern,” Lee said.
He also hopes as the first bisexual legislator in California, he’ll be able to pave the way for more LGBT individuals to enter politics.
“It’s important that especially as someone with a public platform to try to live as authentically as possible and show people that despite how scary sometimes it is to be authentic and be yourself, it must be done because it’s the only way in which we can achieve a real inclusive society.”
Lee aspires to have a long-term career in the legislature so he can continue to serve his constituents for the next decade.
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