Mark Allan Takano (// tə-KAH-no; born December 10, 1960) is an American politician and academic who has been the United States representative for California's 41st congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, Takano became the first openly gay person of Asian descent in Congress upon taking office.
|Chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2019
|Preceded by||Phil Roe|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 41st district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||New Constituency (Redistricting)|
Mark Allan Takano
December 10, 1960
Riverside, California, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (1983–present)|
|Republican (Before 1983)|
|Education||Harvard University (AB)|
University of California,
Takano was born in 1960 in Riverside, California. His family was relocated and interned from California to a "War Relocation Camp" during World War II. He is Sansei, that is, the grandson of people born in Japan who immigrated to the United States. He attended La Sierra High School in the Alvord Unified School District, where he graduated as class valedictorian. In high school, he also participated in the Junior State of America, a national student-run organization centered around debate and civic engagement in young people, and was elected lieutenant governor of the Southern California State. He graduated from Harvard University with an AB in government in 1983 and from the University of California, Riverside with an MFA in creative writing for the performing arts in 2010.
Takano taught British literature in public schools for 23 years. He was a member of the Republican Party through college, when he became a member of the Democratic Party. In 1990 he was elected to the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees. While on the board, he shepherded a measure that gave college employees domestic partner benefits.
Takano ran for the United States House of Representatives in California's 43rd congressional district. He won a seven-candidate Democratic primary with 29% of the vote. Republican Ken Calvert defeated Takano by 519 votes, 47%–46%.
Takano defeated Raven Lopez Workman in the Democratic primary, 70%–30%. During the campaign, Republican State Assemblyman Ray Haynes outed Takano, calling him a "homosexual liberal". In the general election, Calvert defeated Takano, 55%–38%.
In July 2011, Takano announced he would run for the House in the newly redrawn 41st congressional district, established in the redistricting following the 2010 United States Census. Five candidates ran for the open seat. In the June 2012 open primary, John Tavaglione, a Republican who sat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, ranked first with 45% of the votes. Takano ranked second with 37%. In the November general election, Takano defeated Tavaglione, 58%–42%. Takano became the first openly gay non-white member of the House.
After Corrine Brown's indictment on July 8, 2016, she temporarily stepped down as ranking member of the Veterans Committee, leaving Takano as acting ranking member until the end of the 114th Congress. When the Democrats took the House majority after the 2018 elections, Takano became the chair of the committee. He is currently the most junior chair of a major House committee.
When Representative Bill Cassidy circulated a draft letter opposing an immigration reform bill in 2013, asking for signatures, Takano marked it up in red pen like a high school assignment and gave it an F, with comments like, "exaggeration – avoid hyperbole."
Takano co-chairs the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Arts Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus, U.S.-Japan Caucus, and the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus.
For his tenure as the chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee in the 116th Congress, Takano earned an "A" grade from the nonpartisan Lugar Center's Congressional Oversight Hearing Index.
Takano supports gun control efforts. In the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino attack, he criticized Congress for its inability to pass gun control laws, describing the shooting in San Bernardino as "the cost of inaction."
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