State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced his support for Sukhee Kang, Democratic candidate in the open 29th Senate District, located at the confluence of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Kang has now won endorsements from five statewide officeholders – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, in addition to Superintendent Torlakson.
“Sukhee Kang has been a life-long proponent of education for all, and his record backs up his rhetoric,” Torlakson said. “From his service as a board member of the Korean American Scholarship Fund, to his leadership in starting and funding the Irvine Education Partnership Fund, to his being a Chancellor Fellow at Chapman University, Sukhee has truly been an education leader. I am proud to support his candidacy for the state Senate, in which I once served.”
“I am delighted and proud to receive the endorsement and support of Superintendent Tom Torlakson,” Kang said. “As a member of the Assembly and the Senate, he made a real difference in so many areas, especially education and transportation. As superintendent, he has been a tireless advocate for ensuring that our public schools in all parts of the state are serving students’ educational needs.”
A three-term member of the Assembly, Torlakson was elected to the state Senate in 2000, defeating a Republican incumbent. In his first term in the upper chamber, he chaired the Senate Democratic Caucus, as well as the Transportation and Housing Committee. In his second Senate term, Torlakson chaired the important Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Schools and Community. His legislation streamlined and improved California’s after-school programs and provided $2.9 billion in additional funding to the state’s lowest performing schools. He was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2010, and reelected in 2014.
Kang was a two-term city councilmember in Irvine, as well as a two-term mayor of the city, reelected overwhelmingly in 2010 with more than 64 percent of the vote. He and his wife Joanne, also a South Korean native who immigrated to the U.S. with him in 1977, have been residents of Orange County for 38 years and now live in Fullerton.
Kang announced his candidacy for the open 29th Senate District on April 22, the first Democrat to do so, and has since picked up dozens of endorsements from state and local officials and community leaders throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties, including Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair, Sen. Connie Leyva. The district is currently represented by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, who cannot run again due to term limits.
Kang has been recognized numerous times for his outstanding public service and community leadership, including receiving the American Diabetes Association’s “Orange County Father of the Year Award” in 2012, the Carnegie Corporation’s “Pride of America” award in 2010, and the International Leadership Foundation’s “Public Servant of the Year” award in 2010. In 2009, Kang was recognized as one of the O.C. Metro’s “Hot 25 Platinum Civic Leaders.”
A veteran, Kang served in the South Korean Army, then graduated from the prestigious Korea University with a degree in agricultural economics, and in 2011 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dongseo University in Busan, Korea. He also has served a special advisor to the chancellor of UC Irvine, and as an adjunct professor and Chancellor Fellow at Chapman University.
The Kang children, Alan, 34, and Angie, 32, attended public schools in Anaheim, where the Kang family lived for 10 years. Alan, a graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business, is a manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Angie, a graduate of Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall), is senior counsel at Hulu.