The Vine: City Council Profiles
By Emily Ball, Vine City News
Irvine City Councilman Anthony Kuo has a lot of opinions about Irvine. And he has every right to. As a lifelong Irvinite, he knows the people, parks, and businesses that make up our city like the back of his hand.
“I am the first one on Irvine’s City Council who grew up in Irvine,” Kuo says. Born in 1982, he attended Alderwood Elementary and Lakeside Middle School. After one year at Woodbridge High School, Kuo transferred to University High School where he cheered on the Trojans through graduation. During his senior year at Uni, Kuo interned with the city of Irvine, his first foray into local government. It sparked a passion for governing our city that continues today.
“My employee number is 6002,” says Kuo. The number is a remnant of his time with the city in high school. “People are like, ‘How did you get that number?’ The employees of the city are assigned a number based on when they were hired. They’re currently in the fourteen thousands.”
After studying public policy and communications at Southern Methodist University, Kuo moved back to Irvine with a greater appreciation for our city. He frequently finds himself at local fundraisers for Irvine schools and organizations to support their efforts. Through his active social media accounts, it’s easy to see how much he enjoys supporting Irvinites and their causes. As a self-described “violently pro-Irvine” citizen, Kuo’s passion for our city knows no bounds.
“I love the concept of villages,” Kuo says. “There’s a sense of pride here in Irvine, not only in your city but in your individual community. We have pride in our neighborhoods’ schools and parks. It makes me think of a saying at church (Kuo is a Later Day Saint): ‘Put your faith into action.’ In Irvine, we’re putting our pride into action.”
Kuo’s pride in Irvine does not blind him to its problems. He recognizes that the city has a lot of work to do to return to its pre-COVID status.
“The priority is getting us back to where we need to be,” Kuo says. “There will be financial challenges as we come out of this.”
Despite those challenges, Kuo feels Irvine is in a far better situation than many of its neighbors. Due to the city’s COVID testing program, its vaccination sites, and its overall fiscal health, he is bullish about our prospects for recovery. And he wants more residents to know about that.
“City hall needs to communicate more,” says Kuo. “We’ve done an incredible job vaccinating our seniors. If you look at the numbers by zip code, most have eighty or ninety percent of seniors vaccinated.”
The high vaccination rate among seniors is one of the many specific metrics Kuo delves into when assessing how Irvine is doing and making choices about its future. He uses specific tools in deciding how to vote on various issues. Kuo’s governing priorities are accountability, transparency, and engagement. Engagement is especially important to Kuo in making informed decisions that will benefit residents.
“My focus is the minutia,” says Kuo. “Who is the end user? Ask them. We have to predict what the community needs before they need it. And we have to ask, ‘How does this benefit Irvine?’”
Kuo’s political aspirations are far from grand.
“Once a state senator told me, ‘You vote on swing sets and I’m voting on multimillion dollar storage facilities,’” recalls Kuo. “I told him ‘Will you ever see those facilities? Because those swing sets that I vote on, in six months I’ll be able to sit on them.”
Kuo has decided to run for another term on Irvine’s City Council in 2022, but he doesn’t plan to ever run a position at the state or federal level. He loves Irvine too much to do that.
“I’ll never run for something in Sacramento or DC,” promises Kuo. “I like sleeping in Irvine.”
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