Home is where the vote is

Is Congressman Schiff’s address a campaign issue?

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 5/25/2006

Green Party congressional candidate and former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian has described Democrat opponent Congressman Adam Schiff as out of touch with area voters — most of all when it comes to his support for the Iraq War.

During a debate May 12 at the Pasadena Senior Center, Paparian tried to advance his contention that Schiff isn’t really hearing his constituents with the allegation that Schiff no longer really “lives” in the 29th Congressional District.

In November 2002, freshly re-elected Schiff sold the family home in Burbank and purchased a 3,000 square foot, two-story mansion in an exclusive suburb of Washington, DC. Around that time, Schiff rented a small apartment in Burbank, where he is registered to vote.

“Adam and his family have been inhabitants of Montgomery County, Md., ever since. His children are enrolled in school there and his wife is an active PTA volunteer,” said Paparian, who described Schiff’s apartment as not much bigger than the garage of his Maryland home.

“Now I don’t know if that means he can’t legally run for the House,” Paparian continued, “but it sure means in my book that he shouldn’t. He doesn’t live here, except on paper.”

A member of the House of Representatives is only required to keep an address anywhere in the state he represents, according to the Web site of the Office of the Clerk of the US House of Representatives.

Schiff told the audience that he is, in fact, still very much a part of area life — even if his kids aren’t.

“We brought my wife and kids to DC when my daughter was ready to start school because I wanted to be involved in her school,” said the three-term incumbent. “I think for most young parents in Congress, they tend to bring their families back to DC and they keep a residency [in their home district], which I do in Burbank. But as I’m back in my office here in Pasadena every week or every other week, I find it very easy to stay in touch with my constituents.”

Paparian was not swayed.

“He doesn’t drive the freeways or ride the Gold Line or breathe the same air every day. He and his family have no idea. His kids don’t go to school here; his wife doesn’t shop here. He knows about our schools and our lives only by what he reads in the papers and what he picks up in these quickie visits to get re-elected. Now maybe that’s why Adam has lost touch with us,” said Paparian.