By T.A. Hendrickson
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Alex Padilla to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate is sure to resonate with many residents of Northeast Los Angeles.
Padilla is not directly connected to NELA. But as the state’s first ever Latino U.S. Senator, he reflects the majority in NELA. According to Census data, over half the overall population in NELA identifies as Hispanic or Latino, ranging from 63% in the zip code of 90042 (mainly Highland Park), to 58% in 90065 (including Glassell Park, Cypress Park and Mount Washington) and 36% in 90041 (Eagle Rock).
Similarly, Padilla’s stated priority when he gets to the U.S. Senate — “Covid, Covid, Covid” — reflects the need in NELA and other predominantly Latino areas that have been especially hard hit by the virus.
Padilla’s appointment also marks the first time since 1992 that the state has had a U.S. senator from Southern California. (Harris owns a house in Los Angeles with her husband, but her political career centered largely on Northern California.) Padilla was raised in Pacoima and still lives in the San Fernando Valley. He represented the district that includes his hometown on the L.A. City Council from 1999 to 2006. He also served eight years in the State Senate (2006 to 2014) before becoming Secretary of State.
Padilla is ascending to national office, but his roots are in L.A. and that’s a positive development for Angelenos.