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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Aggie alumnus Alex Lee wins seat in California State Assembly

 Former ASUCD president handily defeated Republican in East San Jose’s 25th District

When Alex Lee ran for ASUCD in 2014, he touted his ability to get boba into the Coffee House on campus. Now, as a state assemblymember-elect, he plans to take on affordable housing.

“ASUCD was the first time I worked in an elected position,” Lee said. “You learn to work with other people to achieve policy goals with the same political dynamics that exist at any level of government.”

Lee graduated from UC Davis with degrees in communication and political science, after serving as student body president for one year.

During his tenure as ASUCD president, he said he was concerned about the affordable housing in Davis and how students were being left out of the conversation.

“Students often did not have any say in land-use decisions and anything about housing,” he said. “But they were disproportionately affected by the shortage of housing, the high cost of housing.”

When Lee was president of ASUCD from March 2016 to March 2017, he said the UC Davis campus was riled in controversy due to its previous Chancellor Linda Katehi, facing a thawing tuition freeze and still reeling from the recent election of President Donald Trump. 

“It was a very tumultuous time, and knowing how to represent and effectively advocate for the voice of 30,000 students at UC Davis was incredibly heartening,” Lee said.

Lee’s new position claims a lot of firsts. He is the first openly bisexual state legislator in Califonia, and at 25 years old, he will become the youngest Asian-American assemblymember in the state’s history.

“There’s tons of crises and scandals we have to deal with, and I think that made me a strong leader and more adept to lead than perhaps some older politicians,” he said.

Previously, Lee worked at the Capitol, where he said he helped write and pass two state laws as a legislative policy advisor.

“I knew the state legislature was the place to make some pivotal change,” Lee said. “However, I think that the Democratic supermajority—we were not fulfilling our promise that our constituents like to see.” 

Though Lee considered himself as an underdog in the race, with his Republican opponent far outspending him, he was endorsed by previous Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
“It was incredibly exhilarating to be endorsed by Bernie Sanders,” Lee said. “I credit him as fostering the modern progressive movement that we know today.”

Lee’s campaign voluntarily refused to receive monetary contributions from corporations, fossil fuels, real estate developers or police unions.

He said that his time at UC Davis helped him learn how to balance a budget and advocate for students. 

“A lot of the things I learned at UC Davis are the foundations I bring to being a representative of the state assembly,” Lee said. “Really, I think any Aggie could do it, they just have to find the right place for them to make a difference.” 

Written by: Kathleen Quinn— campus@theaggie.org


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