West Hollywood has been seeing a lot of Adam Schiff in recent months. From helping to cut the ribbon at the new library to swearing in Jeff Prang as mayor to riding in the Gay Pride Parade to making the rounds to various block parties at National Night Out, Schiff is becoming a familiar face in town.
And he hopes to keep it that way. Schiff is the congressman currently representing the state’s 29th district in Washington, DC. But thanks to redistricting, the map has been redrawn to put West Hollywood in the new 28th congressional district that also includes Hollywood, Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank.
So, Schiff has been getting to know the city and its residents. He is hoping they will remember him when they go to the polls on November 6. He's up against Republican Phil Jennerjahn.
“The West Hollywood community has been phenomenally welcoming,” Schiff said during a recent interview with Patch. “It’s been wonderful getting to know people in the community.”
Schiff feels a special connection with the city’s Russian population, explaining that his grandparents came from Lithuania, Russia and Poland.
“I feel an ancestral connection to the [Russian] community because that’s the part of the world my family comes from,” he said. “I look forward to getting to know my cousins.”
As for the gay community, he’s long been an ally. He’s a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and he pushed the drafting committee for the Democratic National Convention to include .
Schiff feels the most important issue facing the region is the economy.
“I’m a big believer in infrastructure investment,” said Schiff, a Massachusetts native. “I’m very glad the transportation bill passed [in late June]. Until we bring construction back, we’re not going to bring the economy back. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be done — it’s serving a vital purpose and at the same time would create millions of jobs in the country.”
A father of two children, he also considers education a major issue, feeling schools need more federal funds to keep class sizes smaller and retain good teachers.
“Often what we’ve done [on a federal level] has been counterproductive because we tend to impose mandates on the schools without providing the funding to support them,” he said. “With cutbacks in Sacramento, education is being hurt, teachers are being laid off, class size is increasing. It’s important that we provide more federal funds to schools.”
Schiff also supported legislation which kept student loan rates from doubling, explaining, “In this kind of global economy, access to higher education is really a key to productivity and competitiveness.”
Schiff said he has always been attracted to public service.
“Ever since I was a kid, I was very attracted to the idea of public service, not necessarily in terms of elected office, but I was very interested in what was going on in the world around me in terms of public policy,” said Schiff who got his law degree at Harvard.
“When I was a prosecutor [with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles], I had a friend who ran for the state legislature and saw the work he was doing. It gave him an opportunity to work on a whole range of issues including the root causes of why we were so busy as prosecutors. That looked very attractive to me.”
He ran for the state legislature and lost twice before winning a seat in the state Senate in 1996. “I’m kind of a poster child for perseverance,” he laughed.
He has served in the House since 2001 and currently serves on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. He says he especially enjoys the Intelligence Committee which provides oversight to the nation’s intelligence agencies.
"It’s the least partisan and probably the most productive of all the committees on the hill,” Schiff said. “That’s in large part because the meetings are in closed session due to the classified information. There’s no grandstanding because there is no one to grandstand to. We get our work done and don’t use each issue to bash each other.”