Jocelyn Yow, 23

Jocelyn Yow.jpg

Jocelyn Yow, 23, is running for Eastvale City Council. Before this, she was a staffer for Nancy Pelosi, a student body president at Norco College, and an Immigration Specialist at the U.S. House of Representatives to name a few. In this interview, she talks about the importance of local politics and her dream for a library.

You’re running for Eastvale City Council. In your words, what exactly does city council do?

There’s a lot of things. Your housing, your roads, your streets, your potholes. Those are all under city jurisdiction. It’s the things that affect you on a daily basis. I always tell people, regardless if they’re Democrats or Republicans, leave the politics to DC and Sacramento. What really matters at the end of the day is who is going to fix your potholes and street lights.

Those are all under city jurisdiction and that's what actually matters. And yet a lot of the time, people don't go all the way down the ballot and vote in the city council race. But in my opinion, city council will probably affect you more than many other state or national policies.

You basically read my mind! Speaking of potholes, what are the potholes in your community? What are the issues you feel are not being addressed?

First thing: library! We still do not have a library. We share one with the local high school and it's only open after 3 pm. It’s such a tiny space, and it's loud because high school students will be there to hang out.

I have fond memories of that library because that's where my brother and I used to hang out all the time. A lot of a lot of the residents in Eastvale, just like my family, are working class. So, when my parents were working, we had nowhere else to go. The library was the only place for us after school.

But it was not the best place for us, and I think it's something that we should work on. I know it's not going to happen within the next one to three years because it requires a lot of money, but it is something that we should prioritize. This is, after all, a family community.

The library we have right now has the highest check out rate in the entire Riverside County, so there is a high demand. In fact, I set up a little library, a community library with a bookshelf right in front of the house, and people love it. My neighbors always come up to me saying it’s such a great idea. We need more of this.

I want a library. I want a library so badly. For me, I see a library as a safe place for kids to learn and grow and that's what we need in the city. The city is great. We have great schools, great streets. If I could get everyone to agree on it, and prioritize that, and reallocate the budget, I would absolutely want a library.

Secondly, restaurants. 85% of the restaurants in our city belong to fast food chains! It’s a family community, and we should be bringing in more healthy options instead of fast food restaurants such as small businesses and local restaurants.

Thirdly, we have a great community college, I’m an alumna of it. It's called Norco college and it's right down the street from me. I think we should create a partnership with local community colleges to make sure that the residents receive the training that they need in order to find work, and also to make sure that, ideally, residents can work in the region. Most of the residents here commute for at least half an hour. I used to commute to work two hours away, so four hours back and forth.

Why do you think millennials vote?

It’s because there’s no one like us out there. There’s no one on the ballot like us. At least for me, I thought it was something you wait to do until your 40s, 50s, or 60s. I think it takes seeing someone like you to motivate you to vote or run for office. It's the same thing as how we want women in office or people of color. We just need more millennials in office.

How do you prepare for the campaign trail each day?

Before I give a speech, I love going to the bathroom. I know that sounds weird but usually, I will go in there, look in the mirror and just give myself the “you can do with Jocelyn!” pep talk. Maybe even do a quick one-minute rehearsal of my bullet points, and once I’m out of the bathroom, I’m ready to go.

How do you stay informed not just nationally, with the craziness of our politics, but in your area, keep up with the issues keep up with what you care about?

A lot of it is through reading the news and then social media. But also, just talking to people. It's great that we have all these channels like social media, the internet, but a lot of times we forgot that we should just talk to people regardless of your party. That's what I've been doing.

When I campaign, it doesn't matter if someone is a Republican, or Democrat, or independent, or a no party practice. I talk to everyone, and I learn new things almost every day. It doesn’t matter how old they are, it doesn't matter what their gender is, what is their party is, I talk to them. And it's a great way to learn things about your city, about your state, and your country. Some of the residents here may have just recently moved to the area, and then they’ll tell me interesting facts or stories from their hometown.

I think that interaction is what is missing in my opinion, and which is also why I wanted to go into teaching. I've taught at elementary schools and community colleges, and yes, I am teaching. But also, I learn from my students. That’s what social media can’t provide you with, especially with how the social media algorithms work, you're just interacting with people with similar thoughts as you.

What was the best advice you received before you ran?

It's not a one day wake up and think I'm going to run. The thing about running is that it takes months or years of calculation. I always tell people, even if you're thinking of running but you're not sure when, not sure for what, not sure how, start getting out there. Start being active in your community. Start going out there, start enrolling in trainings.

For instance, I did Emerge and IGNITE. When I did both of them, I wasn't 100% sure. But because of the training that IGNITE and Emerge provided, I am able to run today. You have to be prepared because you never know what's going to come up. You don't want you to miss an opportunity just because you weren’t prepared.

So even if you’re even just considering running, go for it. Prepare for it. It's going to take months and years, it's going take a long time to build up your contacts, but if something comes up, that's when you know you're ready and you just go for it.

You’ve lived in several different areas. What do you love about Eastvale particularly?

 I absolutely love the people. The residents, the neighbors. I have lived in different cities, different countries. But there are no other cities like Eastvale.

To give you an idea, on July 4, I went out and just walked around the neighborhood on my way for a run. And my neighbor, a family two blocks away, said hi to me and then invited me in. I didn’t know them at all!

But they welcomed me, gave me some papaya and we chatted for half an hour. And I love that. That's what makes Eastvale such a great city. And I experience that almost on a daily basis. Whenever I go canvassing, people offer me water, people talk to me, people are actually engaging people with me.

I’ve walked in other cities and people would not answer the door. They will just take the flyer and say, “Oh, go away.” But in the city of Eastvale, people are engaging, people actually talk to you and are so friendly. I love that about the city. That's what makes Eastvale so great. And I have yet to find any other city like it.

Why did you decide to be a public servant? Why not pursue another career to help people – doctor, lawyer, social worker?

Well, I suck at science, so I couldn't be a doctor. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. Growing up, my dad asked us every year, “What do you want to do?” There was a time when I said doctor. But regardless of what I told him, it was always the same theme, I wanted to help people. I thought about being a doctor, then I took one year of biology and never talked about that again.

In the end, it all came down to two things teaching and politics. Teaching is something that I'm still pursuing, I'm working on my master’s right now. I want to teach at a community college. My whole family are products of the California Community Colleges and we benefited from the system. I don't think we would be where we are without Community College. That's why I want to teach, to give back to the system.

Then also politics because at the end of the day, I know it sounds cliché, but if we’re not at the table, we will be on the menu. We currently do not have Asian Democratic women serving in the State Legislature, not the State Senate, nor State Assembly. Zero. The last representative was Carol Wu, and she termed out.

Yet no one is talking about it! It's great that we have Betty Yee and Fiona Ma, but other than that I can't really think of any other Democratic Asian women. We need to make sure that we are being represented and our voices are being heard. The city of Eastvale is mostly people of color. It is a working-class city and if you look at the city council members, they do not reflect the diversity of our city.

What do you say to people who think you’re too young to run?

It’s funny. Just two days ago someone looked at me and said, “You look way too young to be running.” I looked at him and I just laughed it off. I said, “Oh yeah, thank my parents for the good genes.”  But after joking around, I listed all my accomplishments. I’ve worked in State Senate, I’ve work in Congress, I've worked in public service.

People think that just because you're young you have no experience. But I have more experience in government than some of the city council members who are sitting right now. At the end of the day, I tell people to use humor and then back it up with facts.

The views expressed in this interview are those of the candidate, and do not reflect the beliefs and views of Ballot Breakers or its staff.

Lacy Wright