PROGRESSIVE

pro·gres·sive | /prəˈɡresiv/ 
noun - one believing in moderate political change, and especially, social improvement by governmental action
adjective - supporting social and political change that aims to make a system fairer

PIVOT’s “I am a Progressive” series features leaders who are driving change. They may not make headlines on a daily basis, but they deserve recognition.  Some may be emerging voices, while others are established experts in their field, but at their core, they improve our community by influencing hearts, minds, and ideas.  We are sharing their stories to inspire and enable new chapters in the ever-evolving narrative of our more just society.

Congressman Eric Swalwell

Congressman Eric Swalwell represents California's 15th Congressional District.  The 15th District is vastly diverse and Asians make up almost 30% of the district.  

Congressman Swalwell co-chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which makes committee assignments and sets the caucus' policy agenda. He serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is the ranking member on its CIA Subcommittee, and believes protecting Americans is Congress’ most solemn duty. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee.  Congressman Swalwell founded and chairs the Future Forum, a group of 27 young Democratic Members of Congress focused on issues and opportunities for millennial Americans including student loan debt and home ownership.

How did you get into politics?
I was a congressional intern on 9/11, and I saw the bipartisan unity and resolve that followed the attacks on our country; it inspired me to pursue a career in public service. While working as an Alameda County prosecutor, I started as a Dublin Heritage and Cultural Arts Commissioner, then became a Planning Commissioner, and then a City Councilman. I won my first House term in 2012.

What is your most proud accomplishment thus far?
I’m particularly proud of the help we’ve been able to render to veterans in our district who need help getting the benefits they earned in service to our nation. We helped recover or save $1.04 million for 15th District veterans just in 2015-16.

What makes you a progressive?
I believe government has a role to play in helping Americans attain the education, health, employment and support they need to dream of and achieve a better life for themselves and their children – and I believe that starts by supporting working people, while treating all people with equality and dignity.

What is the most significant issue the 15th District faces today?
Locally, I think our transportation and housing problems are intertwined – we need to improve our mass transit and roads to make sure the district remains a great place to live and work.

What are you known for in the 15th District?
I hope I’m known for being here regularly when I’m not required to be in Washington, meeting people and groups whenever I can to hear their concerns, and for using social media to do that when I must be elsewhere.

Not to sound crass, but what have you done to help the Vietnamese American community in your district?
Not crass at all! Actually, my chief of staff, Ricky Le, came to the United States at age 4 after his family fled Vietnam on a raft. He was welcomed into this country, where he had the opportunity to be first in his family to go to college. He started out on Capitol Hill as an intern, and has been my chief of staff since I took office, becoming a valued advisor and dear friend. His life story strengthened my resolve to oppose President Trump’s terrible travel ban, which amounts to turning America’s back on refugees. I’m also a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for law-abiding people.

Who are your role models?
Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Alamo), for whom I was an intern in 2001. 

What is your favorite travel destination?
Actually, I’ve been to Vietnam, and loved Saigon!

What would you say or do if you met Trump?
“Let’s work together to make sure foreign adversaries can’t attack us again as they did in last year’s election, and to make sure Americans have what they need to thrive.”

Fun fact:
Whenever I’m home, I find the time to hit Johnny’s Donuts in Dublin for a maple bar; I wish they would open a Washington, D.C. store.