PASADENA, Calif. – After exchanging awkward questions about keeping the mask on and our vaccination status as a recent addition to social interactions during the pandemic, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma and I sat down for an interview in a cozy tea room in Pasadena.
Fiona Ma, a daughter of Chinese immigrants, started her career as an accountant at Ernest & Young. She served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the California Board of Equalization and the State Assembly, and was elected on November 6, 2018 with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history. She is the first woman of color and the first female Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.
“It doesn’t happen in all the states!” notes Ma about the ability of immigrants to reach such heights, before we start to talk about California’s specific characteristics.
Even agreeing with the treasurer on the Golden State being a “state of immigrants” and “the fifth largest economy,” I couldn’t help mentioning the high taxes, the astronomical housing prices and post-pandemic small business crisis that forced nearly 40,000 businesses to close down permanently, according to the New York Times.
“I am concerned about [all] that, but taxes are controversial,” notes the treasurer. She is more focused on housing prices that she calls “a product of supply and demand.” “Next door to my house there was a house for sale. It went for a million dollars over the asking price! They didn’t need to do that. But that also creates imbalance in what the real prices are,” says Ma.
Sky high and ever-rising real estate prices as well as other issues that make California an expensive state forced many to migrate to neighboring states. According to the Census Bureau, from 2010 to 2019 more than 900,000 people left California as a net change in population. The Armenian population is no exception to this trend.