Applicant

Controller

About CalMatters | Support this guide

Applicant Yvonne Yiu is asking you to hire her for the role of controller, which pays $174,843 per year. Her resume:

Yvonne Yiu

Councilmember, city of Monterey Park

Professional Profile

A big part of Yvonne Yiu’s pitch to be elected controller is her experience managing finances. She spent 25 years in asset management, securities and legal compliance for banks. She’s now retired, but for the past decade has still worked part-time as an arbitrator and expert witness for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a private corporation that aims to self-regulate the finance industry.

Yiu began her public service career on the Monterey Park City Council in 2020, serving as mayor until February of this year. As controller, she’s looking to combine her experiences: Using the public office to help the state manage money, as well as helping Californians achieve financial security.

She also sees a broader role in the job: To be an advocate and voice to help solve big issues such as access to health care, income inequality, quality education and homelessness and affordable housing. 

Experience

City Councilmember, Monterey Park

April 2020-present

Was part of a city effort to create a mobile app rewards program to stimulate the local economy. 

Mayor, Monterey Park

December 2020-February 2022

Oversaw the distribution of a $110 million pension obligation bond at a 2.66% interest rate, which saved the city $55 million while protecting public pensions.

CEO of Key West

2009-2018

Founded an investment and brokerage firm that managed $500 million in assets.

The firm put together deals including a $70 million real estate fund in downtown Los Angeles with a large Chinese developer.

The firm was censured and fined by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for improperly depositing investor funds in a real estate trust account owned by one of the fund’s managing members. 

Part-time TV news anchor 

June 2009-June 2011

Reported news from the U.S. in Cantonese for TVB network. 

Financial advisor/asset manager

1998-2009

Worked as vice president of regional sales for Merrill Lynch, as a branch manager for E*Trade Financial, a financial executive for Citicorp Investment Services and as an investment specialist for Charles Schwab.

References

  • Mayors and city council members of at least 18 cities, mostly in the San Gabriel Valley   
  • Former state controller and Treasurer John Chiang
  • Democratic lawmakers from eastern Los Angeles County and Orange County, including Sen. Bob Archuleta from Pico Rivera, Assemblymember Mike Fong from Los Angeles and U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez, a Democrat who represents Whittier, Norwalk and the surrounding cities.  

Fun Fact

If not finance or politics, Yiu’s career might have been in theater. The first job she applied for after college? Broadway opera singer. She still enjoys singing, especially karaoke.

“A criticism that I get a lot is that people don’t know who I am….I’m a working mom, a public servant, a proud immigrant and someone committed to being with you every step of the way.

Loading campaign finance data…

Here’s where Yvonne Yiu, applicant for controller, stands on the big questions about California’s budget, pensions and taxes. Answers are from written responses her campaign provided:

Key Topics
Where Yvonne Yiu Stands on the Issues
Budget
Economy
Taxes
Pensions

While the state budget is awash in surplus cash, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and other watchdogs have repeatedly questioned whether all that money is being spent wisely or effectively.

Expand All
Collapse All
Which areas of the state budget would you focus on to make sure spending is effective?

“While the State Controller has no direct oversight of the state budget, the controller can perform independent audits of agencies…I believe this is the best way for the controller to ensure state money is being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

What specific strategies would you employ to prevent waste and fraud?

Transparency, accountability through improved technology and online communication. “The State Controller can perform independent audits to investigate government waste or fraud.”

Even though the economy is rebounding from COVID, California still has the among nation’s highest jobless rates and hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost. Experts say the pandemic widened the gap between California’s rich and poor in some ways, despite unprecedented direct relief.

Expand All
Collapse All
Would you support another broad stimulus payment? What about the gas tax rebate?

“I would support another stimulus payment, particularly to encourage economic growth….While the governor’s proposal isn’t perfect…it’s the best proposal to quickly get money into people’s pockets now while they are dealing with the rising cost of living and higher gas prices.”

The pandemic has highlighted how much the state relies on the wealthy for tax revenues that are fueling record budget surpluses — and raised again the issue of whether the tax system needs an overhaul. Conversely, some progressives are pushing to increase taxes on the rich.

Expand All
Collapse All
Do you support any changes in income taxes or sales taxes to account for the shift to a service economy?

“The way we do business has changed and our current economic drivers are very different than when our tax structure was established. It’s time to consider changes to make sure we are taxing the right things in a service economy world.”

Do you support a “wealth tax” or increases on tax rates on upper-income residents? If so, what would the revenue be used for?

“Yes. California has the largest income inequality gap in the history of our state. During the pandemic many Californians were losing their jobs and income, struggling just to get by, while billionaires just got richer. That’s wrong.”

In the short term, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators are urging the state’s two huge public employee pension funds to divest from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In the longer term, CalPERS and CalSTRS both face huge amounts of unfunded debt, forcing them to consider riskier investments in search of higher returns.

Expand All
Collapse All
How would you reduce the unfunded debts of CalPERS, CalSTRS and local governments?

“How to reduce unfunded debts of local government is something I have already dealt with as mayor of Monterey Park….We can find ways to ensure our public pension obligations are met in California with smart investments that generate strong earnings and bonding opportunities that will save us money.”

Do you think the state should divest from Russian companies or funds due to the Ukraine war?

“Not only is divesting from Russian companies the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do from an investment perspective….When we saw what Russia was going to do, it would have been smart for CalPERS to divest in Russian companies because their value was always going to drop.”

Would you change any specific investment policies of CalPERS or CalSTRS?

“The CalPERS and CalSTRS boards have an obligation to ensure public employee pension investments are sound. There also is an obligation to make socially responsible investments.”