Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 68

Photo of Steven "Steve" Choi

Steven "Steve" Choi

57,633 votes (43.8%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Creating Better Paying Full-Time Jobs
  • Tackling the Homeless Problem
  • Opposing Higher Taxes



Member of the California Assembly, State of California (2016–current)
Principal Instructor, New Era Academy, Inc., Kumon Math & Reading (2010–current)
Co-Owner, New Era Academy, Inc., Kumon Math & Reading (2010–current)
Member of the Assembly, California State Assembly — Elected position (2016–current)
Mayor, City of Irvine — Elected position (2012–2016)
Council Member, Irvine City Council — Elected position (2004–2012)
Trustee, Irvine Unified School District Board of Education — Elected position (1998–2004)


University of Pittsburgh, PA Ph.D., Library and Information Science (current)
Louisiana State University Masters Degree, Library Science (1970)
Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea Bachelors of Arts, Finance (1966)

Community Activities

Founder & Co-President,, Irvine Korean Cultural Festival (2010–current)
Member, Bethel Church, Irvine (1991–current)
Member,, President's Advisory Council, George Mason University, Seoul Campus (2015–current)
Member, International Advisory Council, Metropolitan City of Incheon (1969–current)
Member, Board of Directors, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG); (2012–2016)


Dr. Steven Choi was elected to represent California’s 68th Assembly District in 2016. He began his career in public service when he was elected to the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education in 1998. He left that post in 2004 when he was elected to join the Irvine City Council, where he served for eight years before being elected Mayor of Irvine in 2012.

Born in South Korea, Steven Choi earned his B.A. degree from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea. He came to the United States from South Korea as a Peace Corps language instructor for the State Department in August 1968. He then continued his post-graduate education, earning his master's degree in Library Science from Louisiana State University, and his Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

He has taught at several universities and colleges including USC, UCI, California State University, Los Angeles, Henderson State University in Arkansas, Saddleback College, and most recently, Coastline Community College. He founded and serves as Director of Dr. Choi's Academy.

With extensive experience in local office, Choi was elected to the Irvine Unified School District School Board on November 3, 1998 and reelected on November 5, 2002. He was elected to the Irvine City Council on November 2, 2004, becoming the first Asian American elected to a four-year term on the Council. Choi served as an Irvine City Council Member until 2012, when he was elected to his first of two terms as Irvine's Mayor.

Committed to excellence in early education, he was the founder and director of highly successful Dr. Choi's Academy. The Academy focuses on providing tutoring and academic enrichment programs for students. Alongside Steven, his wife, Janie, has also been serving Orange County children for over 21 years with Kumon Math and Reading academic program.

Steven brings his wide breadth of experience to the State Assembly, having served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Orange County Sanitation District. He also served on several other vital boards, such as the Orange County Public Library Advisory Board and the President's Advisory Council at Concordia University. In the Assembly, Choi serves as Vice-Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. He also serves on the Banking and Finance Committee, Health and Human Services - Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, and the Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism & Internet Media.

Dr. Choi and his wife Janie live in Irvine where they raised their two children, Daniel and Michelle.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for all income groups in California?
Answer from Steven "Steve" Choi:

Policy makers must reduce regulatory barriers that impaire and restrict the economic construction of new, affordable housing.  The continued shortage of housing restricts supply and escelates costs for all income groups and frustrates access to affordable housing for everybody.  Nowhere is this more evident than in some of our most progressive regions like San Francisco, Silicon Valley and similar urban regions that have enacted strict limitations or restrictions on housing development and growth.  This culture of opposition to construction of new housing has pushed working class people out and made affordability nearly impossible and the problem is not getting better.  It also has a relationship to our homeless problems as constricting supply necessarily impacts entry level housing access and those who are facing housing crisis.  This must stop.

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Steven "Steve" Choi:

California receives adequate water annually to meet it's agricultural, urban and environmental water needs, the problem is that the majority of it is allowed to flow out to sea by way of the San Francisco Bay.  We have the ability to build storage capacity sufficient to meet our needs in both the Sites Resivour project area and Temperance Flats in the Central Valley.  Over the past 10 years, voters have passed some $30 billion in various water bond proposals - exactly none of which has resulted in the construction of additional water storage.  It is time to get serious about actually building additional water storage capacity where it makes sense to do so.  In other regions of the state, recycling programs as well as desalination are already well under way and these are imprortant as well. However, as California's population continues to grow, major progress will require construction of more storage. 

To reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, as set forth in a 2018 executive order what, if any, proposals, plans or legislation would you support?  Please be specific.
Answer from Steven "Steve" Choi:

California's goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 only serves to make California less competitive in the global economy.  As manufacturers and jobs are pushed out of California, they have relocated to China, where they are powerd by coal fired power plants, this seem counter productive to my thinking.  I support the advancement of clean technologies and the implementation of hydrogen as a fuel source, however, it has to work in the real-world economy. 

According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, we spend over $81,000 per individual who is incarcerated.  Other than incarceration, what ways can the State address safety and justice?
Answer from Steven "Steve" Choi:

History has shown that when society is serious and tough on crime, and that position informs our public policies in the criminal justice area, we have less crime because our policies serve as a credible deterrent and as an important element of crime prevention.  In recent years, California policy makers have been experimenting with various justice reforms including but not limited to: Proposition 57, AB 109 and Proposition 47. Voters were promised that Proposition 57 would only grant early release to ‘non-violent’ offenders, but due to a loophole, sex traffickers, rapists, abusive spouses and even drive-by shooters have qualified for early release under the state’s nonviolent parole process. AB109 amended more than 500 criminal statutes, reduced penalties for parole violations, and shifted thousands of convicted felons from state prison to county jails. Both have been exacerbated by Prop. 47, which makes it almost impossible to lock up serial offenders for drug and property crimes.  I think the pendlum has swung too far and as a result, California's hard working, law-abiding families a bearing the burdon of Sacramento politicians soft-on-crime attitudes.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $1,425,215

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

California Republican Party
Farmers Insurance Group
California Association of Realtors
Altria Group
California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA)
California Dental Association
California New Car Dealers Association
Edison International
Fresenius Medical Care
Gallagher for Assembly 2020
New Majority PAC
Orange County Business Council
R.D. Olson Development
Waldron for Assembly 2020
Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association

More information about contributions

By State:

California 93.86%
Massachusetts 0.84%
Washington 0.66%
Virginia 0.58%
Other 4.06%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.91%)
Small contributions (0.09%)

By Type:

From organizations (91.04%)
From individuals (8.96%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am an educator and small business owner who is using his experience to improve lives in Orange County and across California.

I’m fighting to reduce the cost of living by:

  •    Protecting Prop 13 to keep property taxes down
  • Opposed the gas tax hike and efforts tax utility bills
  • Reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs
  • Making college more affordable

I’ve worked hard to create new and better paying full-time jobs in Orange County to promote innovative job opportunities for working families.

I’m working to reform, modernize, and hold our education system accountable – both at the K-12 level and in higher education.

I have supported efforts to provide the assistance needed to lead the homeless to productive lives and opportunity so they will stop living in our parks and our our streets and obey our laws.

Solving all these problems will take time, but we can do it if we work together. Count on me to work with Democrats and Republicans to forge solutions to the problems facing our county and state.

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