Episode 94 Master Key Peter Chan – Relationships formed for the city
“I want to show my good faith and my goodwill for the firefighters.”
“I came out to oppose it with other people against it (English as an official ordnance), and then a few months later, the council rescinded that ordnance.”
“The L.A.P.D. Came the Sheriff came, and so we did a lot and improved to community relations with the police.”
- Peter was born in Hong Kong, China.
- Peter left at his mother’s encouragement.
- Peter attended The University of Wisconsin and got his degree in accounting.
- Peter moved to Monterey Park after falling in love with the area
- Peter started working as an accountant three years
- Peter then opened his own accounting firm that catered to immigrants
- Peteres political career started as a protest of racist ordinances
- Peter was elected as mayor of Monterey Park and served for 3 terms.
Russell and Scott sit down and have a conversation with a member of the city council who termed our and was a three-time mayor of Monterey Park. He has a focus on fixing infrastructure in the city. He also has focused on development in Monterey Park. Peter Chan joins the podcast today.
What is your connection to the SGV?
Peter is from Hong Kong, and he immigrated in 1969 to go to college in Wisconsin. In 1971 Peter had a friend from Monterey Park, and from that time, he fell in love with the area. After he graduated from Wisconsin, he moved to Monterey Park and has been there ever since.
Did you deal with a lot of racism in Wisconsin?
Peter never really did, fortunately. He just kind of got along with everyone. It just didn’t seem to affect him, thankfully. There were some incidents in the area, but Peter was lucky.
What happened after college?
Peter moved to Monterey Park, where he worked for a company for three years and then opened his own accounting firm. Along that path, he got married and had kids.
I’m the 1980s, and there was a big push for English to be the primary language in Monterey Park. There was a backlash from the number of immigrants coming from the East, and the locals were scared, and when people get scared, they do things they shouldn’t, like push for racist agendas.
Signs were changing from English to Chinese; stores were changing from American cafes to Chinese restaurants. People don’t like drastic changes.
Peter is not against English at all and even encouraged others to learn and get better at English to more effectively meld into the community. Peter did have a problem with English as an official language stance on the grounds of discrimination.
He went out and actually protested with others against the stance, and it was rescinded soon after protests started.
What was your upbringing like in Hong Kong?
Peter grew up during the turbulent 60s. There was unrest, but Peter was able to come over because of a bill President Johnson passed.
Peter’s mother encouraged Peter to leave because of the fear and uncertainty of the country.
After college Peter was really just worried about making money after Peter first got out of college and setting up life.
Could you have done that in Hong Kong?
That’s uncertain. But willpower is very important. It depends on luck too. With luck and willpower in America, there is a lot of opportunity.
What was your journey in developing your life and business?
Peter opened his firm in Chinatown and opened in 1977. Only a few years after, a large number of refugees came to America.
And in that time, they opened their own businesses. That’s how Peter’s luck and ability came to play, they needed an account, and he needed clients, and it worked out great.
They all kind of got a strong customer base and expanded and grew, and so did Peters’s firm. When the initial immigrant family started their own businesses, Peter already had an in. He was in the right place at the right time.
When did you decide you wanted to get into politics?
It was slow. It started with the protests. In the early 90s,
Peter got involved with a police brutality case, and he became a mediator between the police and the community. They worked on a performance, and lots of police came out, and it really improved the relationship between the community and the police.
Three of the police were involved in this performance and community outreach because of police chiefs.
Peter decided to run for city council after this because he wanted to keep helping his community.
What was your time as an elected official like? What stood out to you, and what were you most proud of?
Peter ran on keeping the fire department in the area. The firefighters in the area before would be based out of LA County. It decided the city. The first thing Peter did was to put a voting day to let the people decide if the firefights should stay in the city limits or go father out.
The city decided to keep the firefighters in the city. And after that, Peter sends an olive branch to the fire department chief to have lunch. They just talked over lunch and worked on a way to bury the hatchet, but the chief told him he was about to retire anyway, and he was over the whole thing.
However, he did help Peter get in touch with the new president of the fire council. They did meet, and he tried to lock Peter out, but eventually, Peter won him over through humor and persistence.
SGV 3 for Peter
1 The Observatory in Monterey Park.
2 The Monterey Park Library.
3 The restaurants in Monterey Park are all good.
Monterey Park Council member Peter Chan was first elected to the City Council in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. He was the mayor three times in 2015, 2018, and 2020. Prior to his elected position, he graduated from La Salle College, Hong Kong, and received a BA in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin. He is an accountant by profession.
Hon. Chan brought unity to the city and started to make economic developments in the commercial areas. He led the efforts to fix infrastructures, such as roads, sidewalks, water mains, and many other projects to enhance the business-friendly environment. At the same time, he led the staff in City Hall to improve customer relations. Within a few years, big businesses, big shopping centers, and hotels are attracted to do business in the city. He broadened the tax base and increased the much-needed tax revenue to the city. At the same time, he improved the parks; fix the roads; planted trees, and much more in the residential area. He also worked on environmental issues. All City facilities changed the lights to LED lights. An electric charging station and a natural gas station were opened. His idea is to keep a small-town atmosphere for the residents but a vibrant commercial area for business.
Money Magazine selected Monterey Park as the “Third Best City” to live in the whole country. Also, the City was elected as the “Second Best City” to raise a family by Money Magazine in the same year while he was a mayor.
Hon. Chan is a youth advocate and is a soccer referee at American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) since the 1990s. He is a swimmer and hiker and loves outdoor activities. Hon. Chan is a proud US Army War College National Security Seminar 2013 participant, where he was embedded with over 300 high-ranking US Army and International military officers for national defense strategy and international affairs discussions.