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Congresswoman connects with Claremont constituents

Congresswoman Judy Chu is making use of her downtime from Congress. The local legislator, representing the newly redrawn 27th Congressional District, made a stop in Claremont on Thursday to mingle with local constituents and provide an update on her work at Capitol Hill.

A little more than 50 locals gathered at Taylor Hall on Thursday afternoon to hear Ms. Chu’s 36-minute talk on topics like business, transportation, healthcare and designating the Claremont foothills as a National Recreation Area.

“It’s critical that we have an open door policy and dialogue, and that’s why I am here today,” Ms. Chu said, addressing the audience. “I just flew back from Washington, DC and I am eager to touch base with you.”

She wasted no time in detailing the latest in Congress, including her dismay about further budget cuts to transportation and housing. An additional 7 percent cut was made to the 12 percent reduction to transportation and housing programs that had already been enacted as a part of sequestration cutbacks, which went into effect in March. Among transit programs to experience the cuts is the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, investing in road, rail and transit projects.

“I find that [budget cut] very alarming because LA County in particular has an aging infrastructure. We have so many needs including the regional connector...but most importantly, how about that Gold Line,” she said.

Ms. Chu was also disheartened about potential cuts to the Community Development Block Grant programs (CDBG), which the city of Claremont has relied on for many years. This year the city gave out $137,204 in CDBG for senior case management, job creation and business incentive. A recent bill, however, proposed cutting CDBG allocations in half, bringing the program’s funding to its lowest level since the program began 40 years ago, Ms. Chu noted. She added that should those cuts have gone through, the 27th congressional district would have lost nearly $2.2 million for 2014.

With the support of the house majority, Ms. Chu and fellow legislators struck down further cuts to CDBG funding. “And you can count on me to raise my voice if this program is every on the chopping block again,” she said.

In addition to CDBG, Ms. Chu emphasized her support of small business, acknowledging that small business has helped create 2 out of every 3 new jobs in our economy. In order to help continue to foster these numbers, Ms. Chu is working to bring the San Gabriel Valley its first Small Business Development Center, providing free management assistance to aspiring and established small businesses. Talks are currently taking place between the Congresswoman and the University of La Verne, where the center will be established.

While much of her speech garnered a positive response from the audience, not all were on board with her comments about designating the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Recreation Area.

“The San Gabriel Mountains are a jewel of LA County,” the congresswoman said. “Yet it is improperly maintained. There is a lack of signage and trail maintenance, there are not enough restrooms or trash receptacles and I think it’s because there are so few resources for that area. That’s where the National Park Service comes in. If it is declared a national park area, then those resources will start to come in.”

Others weren’t so sure turning to the federal government is such a good idea.

“She kept referring to how much the government can do,” noted Upland resident Cathy Cushman. “But I believe the opposite. I think the people should have the ability to run their own lives.”

As an Upland resident, Ms. Cushman wasn’t impressed with the fact she felt the presentation did not focus on the interests of Ms. Chu’s eastern district constituents outside the city of Claremont. Nor was she pleased with the legislator’s support of Obamacare or her take on immigration and job creation.

“People think the government makes jobs? People make jobs,” Ms. Cushman asserted. “Government takes away jobs.”

Claremont resident Sandy Hester, on the other hand, left Thursday’s open house reception satisfied with the responses.

“There is never enough time to get your questions answered, but she tried to address the concerns of the Claremont community,” Ms. Hester acknowledged.

Overall, Ms. Hester is pleased with the interest Ms. Chu is taking in the eastern portion of her district.  “This is the first time a member of Congress has cared so much about us and about addressing the issues we care about.”

In order to better serve Foothill cities like Glendora, Claremont and Upland, Ms. Chu has a new district office right here in Claremont, located within the Old School House Shopping Center. For more on Claremont’s congresswoman, visit her website at www.chu.house.gov.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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