Dr. Alexandria Coronado is an Orange County lifer. A music teacher by trade, politics and the arts have always been a part of her life. The daughter of a ballerina and a Cypress City Councilman, she is a classically trained pianist who teaches out of her home and has served on school boards fighting for more inclusion of the arts in local schools. Frustrated with changes she’s seeing in the cities she grew up in, she has now set her sights on the State Capitol and is taking on Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of California’s 65th District in this November’s election. Reporter Brooklynn Wong recently sat down with Dr. Coronado to find out more about her, and the issues she’s basing her campaign on.
This is the first in a two-part series. Look for Part 2, an interview with Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva, in a future issue.
BW: Tell me about your background.
AC: I have a Doctorate in Musical Arts and Music Education from the USC Thornton School of Music and I was teaching music to students. I somehow got roped into running for School Board, and I managed to get elected to School Board for the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees in Fall of 1998.
BW: Have you lived in Cypress for your entire life?
AC: Mostly. I was born and raised in Cypress and I went away to school at the University of Arizona to get my bachelor’s degree, so I lived in Tucson, Arizona for a while. Then I had my daughter and I was back in with my parents. We lived in Anaheim for a little bit, and then my dad had a stroke, so my daughter and I moved back in with my mom to help with my dad, and we’ve been there ever since.
BW: What made you want to study music at the doctoral level?
AC: I played piano from the time I was four. I was a very talented pianist when I was small, so that’s kind of what I did all the way through. I remember one day I had a competition in Palm Springs in the morning. I had to be there at 9 a.m. I played, then we had to drive back to Long Beach to a Bach Competition. I got there, I was running down the aisle in my long formal gown, and they were calling my number, going, “13? 13?” I got up, played my Bach piece, then ran back down the aisle, because we had to go back to Palm Springs that night, so we had like three hours to get back to Palm Springs in the rain and the traffic so I could play at the winner’s concert. So that was my life growing up. So if you think my life is going to be crazy in politics, this is nothing. It’s all good. I know what I’m in for.
BW: What made you want to run for State Assembly?
AC: Orange County is my home, and specifically Cypress, La Palma, that West Anaheim neighborhood, Fullerton, Buena Park. Those are all the places I grew up in. In 2010 I had a major car accident, and I’ve had 17 surgeries in the last eight years. You’re looking at basically a titanium robot now. And purely by God’s blessings I’m able to walk and move the way I do. So I was sitting back in the middle of these surgeries and watching this district flip back and forth, and I always thought I could do better as the representative in the State Assembly. And the gas tax hit, and the rise in crime, and all of these things have happened, sanctuary state laws, all of these things that have happened that have no business being laws in California. So I stood up and said, I will run for this seat.
BW: What will your life look like if you win?
AC: I know I’ll be up at 5 or 6 in the morning every day. I’ll need to be up early and on a plane. I know Janet Nguyen takes meals with her family. She has one meal with her family every day, which I admire a lot. But I will have very long days, and I understand that.
BW: What does your schedule look like now? Are you still seeing music students on top of campaigning?
AC: Yes. I am, actually. So I’ll give you an example. This morning I got up, I took phone calls from back east. I left the house. I was a little bit late for my music teachers meeting this morning. I came here to meet you for the interview. I’m going to go home. I’m going to do some fundraising phone calls as fast as I can before I teach from 3-5. At 5 I will try and get something to eat, but my campaign scheduler is likely to be over looking to work on some PAC fundraising things tonight and contact some donors that are personal friends. I need to write an op-ed on the immigration issues that are going on, and then I will probably catch up on the day’s news and do some reading and studying and I will go to bed about 2 a.m.
BW: In 2016, Assembly Democrats took a two-thirds supermajority. How do you think that can be reversed?
AC: The 65th Assembly District is one of three targeted seats that we can get back. It’s a seat that flips every two years since the redraw. So in non-presidential election years, it’s flipped to the Republican side. That’s how Young Kim won four years ago, that’s how Sharon Quirk-Silva lost to Chris Norby the first time she ran. Then she won, then Young Kim won, then Quirk-Silva won, and now I’m going to win that seat and I’m going to beat her for four years until the redraw. And I’m not going to let her take that seat back. We’re going to put her down, completely down. We can’t have somebody who votes to make rape a non-violent crime in the state legislature. I can’t sit back and watch that happen.
BW: You talked a little bit about the Sanctuary State issue. Talk a little bit more about your take on that and what’s going on in Los Alamitos and other nearby cities right now.
AC: This Sanctuary State issue right now—people can’t come in here and take resources from people who live here, work here on a daily basis, who, you know, live their lives by the law and do everything correctly and then you have people who just kind of ignore the law and do whatever they want basically. I don’t think all of those people are bad people, I think people come to this country for different reasons. But I want them to do it legally, and it’s not that I don’t want people here. They need to follow the law. I also don’t know that our immigration laws help people do that in a way that is current to the situation that’s going on in the world right now. And I can give you an example of that. Right now we have tons of refugees from Venezuela at the Los Alamitos Race Track….We have a ton of Venezuelan refugees here. These people have very wealthy families. They own horse farms, they were horse racers and breeders, they were wealthy in Venezuela. They’ve fled their country because of the political situation there, and Congress has not bothered to give them any kind of political asylum…but those people deserve that. Sanctuary State laws, I don’t think, are quite the answer for Venezuelan refugees. But they deserve some kind of political asylum, so if you’re looking at specific cases of refugees who are coming here, then I think California could address that, but you can’t just allow criminal illegal aliens to cross the border, which is what’s happening right now in Southern California.
BW: I read that you went to Washington for the inauguration. What was that like?
AC: Oh those are so much fun. That’s my second one. I went to a ball at the Library of Congress, which was sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher. I got to meet a bunch of really super famous people there…We were staying in my friend’s house in Logan Circle, which is right where ground zero was for the riots. So right after the inauguration ceremonies, Ed Royce had a party, and we got on the Metro out there and I got a text message. My friend said, “Don’t come. They’re throwing bottle rockets, they’re throwing Molotov cocktails, and Larry King’s limo’s on fire outside the train station. Don’t come.”
BW: Your website talks about crime trends and the gas tax. Talk about those and other issues that your campaign is built on and what you would do about them.
AC: I think Sharon Quirk-Silva has been playing fast and loose with the citizens’ lives in the 65th A.D. She has supported rape becoming a nonviolent crime. I can’t stress that enough. She has supported lifting the laws for shoplifting. But the trespassing laws are now more stringent. And things like possession of the date rape drug, ketamine, are misdemeanors now. I’m not sure how that happened in the state, but it did. And it’s causing a huge wave of crime. Sharon Quirk-Silva has stayed silent on these issues or she has supported them with her votes in State Assembly, and she should not be our representative. We need somebody strong who’s going to stand for the people and stand for our rights and against criminals being let go.