Updated: Aug 13, 2021
California State Controllers are limited to two consecutive terms in office, and several candidates have already declared their intention to run next year to replace two-term Betty Yee. This includes Democrat Yvonne Yiu, whose background includes in finance and as mayor of Monterey Park located just east of Los Angeles. Other declared candidates so far are Democrat Malia Cohen and Republican Lahnee Chen. Visit YyvonneYiu.com.
By Yvonne Yiu
Following the death of my father, my family and I immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong when I was 16 years old. I have never forgotten the struggles my mother faced trying to raise three daughters on her own. Now, with a 25-year career as a successful finance professional, as Mayor of Monterey Park, and as a mother of three, I’m running for State Controller to work to rebuild our economy and society so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
The State Controller serves as California’s fiscal watchdog, ensuring California’s books are balanced and promoting transparency for our state’s finances. I am the only candidate for Controller who comes to the job with an extensive background in finance, auditing and investment.
But I believe the Controller can do more than safeguard California’s finances. I want to move California forward as we rebuild from the pandemic, empowering young people, families, seniors and small business owners with the tools and opportunities they deserve to achieve financial stability and success.
That’s why, as Controller, I will create and lead the Office of Financial Empowerment, a one-stop-shop to help increase financial literacy, help Californians learn ways to build credit, save for an emergency, plan for their children’s education, ensure retirement security and more.
The Office of Financial Empowerment wouldn’t be a new government bureaucracy; rather, it would be a place within the Controller’s Office to empower Californians seeking to make independent and informed financial decisions. Whether it is the basic but often elusive knowledge of how to set a household budget, or the more complex way in which 529 plans can help families reduce their tax burden while saving for their children’s college education, the Office of Financial Empowerment would truly empower individuals through knowledge, support and resources.
Financial empowerment goes beyond helping individuals make their own short- and long-term decisions, however. It’s also about investing in innovative approaches and solutions to rebuild our local economies and small businesses and helping historically marginalized and underserved communities find a tangible pathway to the middle class.
As Mayor of Monterey Park, I led the effort to create a joint public and private sector partnership launching an innovative app, developed right here in our community. This first-of-its-kind technology empowers consumers to earn cashback incentives when they make purchases at local restaurants and other small businesses. Not only is this good for consumers, it helps stimulate our local economy as we work to recover from the pandemic.
This program, which is one of only two currently in California, demonstrates what we can do by thinking creatively and utilizing new technologies. It is one small example of the kind of innovation I want to scale up statewide under the Office of Financial Empowerment.
I am no stranger when it comes to empowering historically underserved and underrepresented communities. Throughout my career in finance, I prioritized financial literacy, particularly for women, teaching them to achieve financial security and independence.
We also cannot ignore the fact that too many Californians do not have access to a bank where they can open a checking and savings account. They often must rely on predatory lending and other less-than-ideal practices to meet their financial needs. As Controller, I will work to expand banking access to all Californians. This includes my support for legislative efforts such as the proposed California Public Banking Option Act (AB 1177).
California has long been one of the most innovative, forward-thinking states in the nation. From technology to arts and entertainment, to scientific achievements, our spirit and drive sets us apart. As Controller, I will work hard to secure a brighter future for our state, helping build a post-pandemic society that works for all Californians.