Who am I?
Congressman Mike Honda was born in California, but spent much of his early childhood with his family in an internment camp in Colorado during World War II. He returned with his family to California in 1953, where his family became strawberry sharecroppers in Blossom Valley in San Jose. His mother also later worked as a house cleaner, and his father for the US Postal Service.
Mike interrupted his college studies in 1965 to answer President Kennedy's call for volunteer service. He served in the Peace Corps for two years, where he built schools and health clinics in El Salvador. Mike returned from the Peace Corps fluent in Spanish and with a passion for teaching.
Following his service in the Peace Corps, Mike earned bachelor's degrees in Biological Sciences and Spanish, and a master's degree in Education from San Jose State University. As an educator, Mike served as a science teacher, a principal at two public schools and conducted educational research at Stanford University. He was a member of the teacher’s union throughout his educational career.
In 1971, Mike was appointed by Mayor Norm Mineta to San Jose's Planning Commission. In 1981, Mike won his first election, gaining a seat on the San Jose Unified School Board.
In 1990, Mike was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. As a Supervisor, Mike led efforts to establish the Open Space Authority and took the lead in women's health care issues such as raising awareness of breast cancer, and convening a women's health conference. He passed landmark welfare reforms that saved millions of dollars for the county.
Mike was elected to the California Assembly in 1996 and re-elected in 1998. As an Assemblymember, Mike worked with Governor Davis to draft landmark education reforms — including smaller class size and increases in teachers' benefits. As the Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair, Mike worked to pass sensible gun safety legislation to keep guns out of the hands of juveniles, ban assault weapons and eliminate taxes on graduate school tuition paid by employers. In recognition of his work for the high-tech economy, Mike was awarded "High-Tech Legislator of the Year" by the American Electronics Association.
In 2000, Mike was elected to Congress. As a representative of Silicon Valley, Mike has brought the Valley’s vision and innovation to Washington. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he has secured over half a billion dollars in federal funds to revive our nation’s manufacturing, innovation, education, infrastructure and clean energy sectors. Mike’s understands that in this nation, we make promises to one another. That is why he has fought to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid at every possible opportunity before him as a Member of Congress.
Mike has two grown children. His wife, Jeanne, was a teacher at Baldwin Elementary School in San Jose before her untimely passing in 2004. His son, Mark, is an aerospace engineer and Michelle, his daughter, is a public health educator.
Why am I running?
America stands at a defining moment – in our local communities, in California and all across our great nation. Since I was first elected to Congress in 2000, I’ve been honored to represent an increasingly diverse, engaged and innovative constituency throughout Silicon Valley. However, I have also seen America become increasingly polarized and divided, hampering our collective ability to solve our nation’s toughest challenges: Ensuring economic recovery, meeting each and every child’s educational needs, investing in infrastructure, and ensuring access to healthcare.
I am running for re-election to Congress because I am continually inspired by the leadership and progressive vision of California and the Silicon Valley, and believe I am well suited to bring the multiplicity and diversity of Silicon Valley voices and experiences to Washington. We need leaders in Washington who are committed to addressing our nation’s toughest challenges rather than serving certain communities special interests.
We need leaders who have experienced and overcome injustice, and who understand what it means to fight for the American dream. I am guided by my belief that in this nation, when you retire, you will not age in poverty; when you are sick, you will receive health care; and when you have fallen on hard times, this nation will find a way to help pick you up. This is a nation of ladders of opportunity and communities that care for their neighbors – in part with promises such as social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
I have dedicated my life to public service, and to standing up for my constituents, working families and those without a voice across the country. With the trust and support of my constituents, I have brought not only a deep knowledge of, and commitment to, my district, but also an ability to find bold, innovative and practical solutions to our nation's toughest challenges. Together, we have accomplished so much for our community, state and nation – but we still have much to do. I would be honored to continue to have the opportunity to do everything possible, as a federal lawmaker, to make this an America that is livable and laudable for each and every one of its citizens.
Unemployment, underemployment, foreclosures, stagnated wages and skyrocketing health care costs are decimating our nation’s great majority and stifling business growth and innovation. Too few proposals address the structural problem at the root of our economic troubles, the shift away from the investments that are at the heart of America’s economic success: Manufacturing, innovation, education, transportation, and clean energy.
At the same time, we all have learned that far too many Republicans in Congress would strip away the safety nets supporting millions of hard working, middle-class Americans for the sake of tax relief for millionaires. Rather, I am proud to support the millionaire’s tax, knowing we must all share fairly in forging bold and groundbreaking solutions for the economic challenges facing America.
That is why I am working to pass legislation that rebuilds and expands American manufacturing to restore the American Dream for the middle class, including permanently extending tax credits that facilitate billions of dollars for innovative research and development programs for the high-tech community in order to create sustainable high-quality jobs. I have also worked to help American manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits and save time and money.
As a former high school science teacher and principal, I have always made education one of my top priorities, working to ensure our children are prepared to enter the 21st-century workforce, that our schools are the finest in the world and each and every student in America is equipped and empowered to succeed. In order for America to stay competitive in an increasingly global economy, I am fighting for significant improvements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. It is also vital that we work to bring equity and excellence in education for each and every child, including providing technology to local classrooms, reduce class size and make college more affordable.
My DFA Values
In many ways, DFA represents the same values that I have dedicated my life’s work to. Since I was a child, I have known the importance of community. Like all of us, my life experiences have shaped my priorities and inspired me to fight every day to better our nation and create opportunities for all Americans.
As a child of internment, I learned what it means to suffer the indignity of oppression and lost opportunity. I also learned that people in positions of power at the time could have stood up and said no to internment. From that realization, I committed myself to a lifetime of ensuring that this never happened to any other community, and to always serving as a voice for the voiceless.
When President Kennedy’s call to service inspired me to volunteer in the Peace Corps in El Salvador, I saw the impact an individual can make on the lives of others when working to benefit a community – it was inspirational and empowering, and I left committed to doing all I could to fight the pervasive poverty experienced worldwide.
When I worked as a teacher, and later as a principal, I was guided by the needs of each child and solidified my dedication to helping others. To this day, I have had no greater joy in life than seeing a child reach their fullest potential.
I took that lesson on with me and, as a school board member, county supervisor, state legislator and member of Congress; I have always been guided by the needs of each constituent. As a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, this has meant fighting every day to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; investing in education in the most high need areas while continuing to expand higher education opportunities to those more well off; and speaking up against civil rights injustices in the post 9/11 American when the majority of my other colleagues turned a blind eye to discrimination. I am so proud that my leadership on these issues was one reason I was presented with the CPC's Lifetime Progressive Leadership Award earlier this year.
Whether that means fighting on behalf of the high-tech industry, making sure each and every child has access to an excellent education, standing up for justice or working to strengthen our economy – the people in our community have always been my top priority.
Finally, Silicon Valley is a true engine of our nation’s economy. Yet it is also a tale of two economies, where after hard times, the disconnect between Silicon Valley’s tech giants and the rest of the valley's residents is more dramatic than ever. While many working for the big tech companies saw their wages and lives improve, the unemployed and teachers, laborers, construction workers, sales clerks -- and increasingly cops, firefighters and local government employees, have only found times harder. This is a challenge I am fighting to solve.
My Campaign is People Powered!
As mentioned above, I have always been guided by the needs of each constituent I represent – not the special interests in Washington. That rule not only dictates how I serve, but how I campaign. I make a point to attend as many community events as possible and actually talk to individuals about the issues that face our community and nation.
In that vein, my campaign will have a deep focus on a volunteer led, grassroots-based campaign that centers on neighbor-to-neighbor communication. We are planning a sophisticated field programs that will reach out to voters directly, on the phones and at their doors.
During my time in public service, I have been lucky enough to have a dedicated and diverse base of supporters that are now my campaign’s greatest strength. We will use these community leaders to bring our campaign to neighborhoods and individual communities – talking about the issues most important to each individual and area.
Also, in my 8 years of service as an elected Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, my mission has been to ensure that our Democratic Parties embrace the New American Communities among us, that we broaden our grassroots campaigns, and that we engage voters through mediums that are important to them – whether in-language, through ethnic media, by bringing diverse surrogates to inspire them, and to invest in field resources for all communities. I believe that is a key to winning, and I run my campaigns that way.