Nov. 7, 2012 – 8:50 a.m.

113th Congress: Mark Takano, D-Calif. (41st District)

Mark Takano has had his sights set on Washington, D.C., for two decades. Having won election in his third attempt, he aims expand access to education and job training in hopes of reducing his district’s 13 percent unemployment rate.

A former high school English teacher who wants to serve on the Education and the Workforce Committee, Takano says attaining the “American dream” is increasingly difficult for many because of the rising costs of education and what he calls a lack of job-training opportunities.

He plans to shepherd initiatives that allow high schoolers to concurrently enroll in college. Such programs, he said, alleviate some post-secondary costs, allowing kids to graduate with not only high school diplomas but associate’s degrees as well.

Takano also wants to create a National Critical Skills Development Fund to offer job-training loans to people entering fields that are experiencing workforce shortages, such as nursing or other health care jobs. His idea would require students to commit a percentage of their future salaries to pay back the loans.

Takano, a self-described “left-of-center Democrat,” wants to get the government involved in microlending to young people to “give young graduates the tools to start their own businesses.”

An openly gay Japanese American, Takano, who ran for Congress in 1992 and 1994, says he expects to “advance the full dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”