Congressman Andy Kim hosts talk with Rider community

By Tori Pender

United States Representative Democrat Andy Kim discussed an array of topics from mental health, gun safety and the Capitol riot that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, with the Rider community on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Lynch Adler Hall Room 202.

The event was hosted by Micah Rasmussen, director of The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics and Rider political science professor.

Kim became the first Asian and Korean-American member of Congress in 2019 and the current congressman of New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district.

Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said, “On behalf of the entire Rider community, we are honored to welcome Congressman Kim to our campus. … I invited him to come speak with the Rebovich Institute and here he is tonight.”

Opening remarks

Kim explained to the full room of Rider students and community members that his driving focus is a singular pursuit of making the greatest impact he can.

“Everything changed on Sept. 11 for me,” said Kim.

Kim continued, “When I was in college, that was when Sept. 11 happened, … If that day never happened, I would probably be a mediocre microbiologist right now.”

For Kim, the attack made him rethink where he wanted to head in life, switching his major from biology to politics and international relations.

Kim said, “When I was walking around ground zero, I just remembered how angry I was, how upset I was. I realized I can’t build a career and a trajectory just off of anger, just off of fear, just off of rage. That I know so many people in this country felt that day. So, what I chose as my singular question is that I want to dedicate my career to stop preventable deaths.”

Kim has worked in Africa on Malaria prevention, as well as a national security adviser under President Barack Obama as the director of Iraq.

Community questions

One bill sponsored by Kim that stands out to him, is H.R.8, or the bipartisan background checks act of 2021, for universal background checks on guns.

“That one was really powerful. Never before on the House floor has a vote like this passed, for a bill to do that … I remember most times when we are voting … you vote and then you kinda just mingle around. For those of you trying to find a way to sleep you might turn on the C-Span vote counter, you know? And you see the votes up on there and see people just milling it out. That’s normally what happens,” said Kim.

Kim continued, “This vote was different. Everyone was just standing there, staring up at the vote counter, waiting for that thing to get up to 218. 218 is our magic number. … When that vote finally ticked up above the max number, it just erupted in applause.”

Capitol insurrection

On Jan. 6, Kim was working at the United States Capitol. At the end of that day, Kim was photographed while picking up trash in the rotunda.

“I was just so heartbroken to see this room in that condition. I truly believe that the rotunda is the most beautiful room in this country. I love it so much, it’s literally the center point of our democracy,” said Kim.

Kim spent an hour and a half cleaning the rotunda, which he described as “instinctual.”

In Kim’s closing remarks, he left the audience with a question, “What is service? What does that apply to in our lives? Service isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.”

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