Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s parents immigrated to the United States with an elementary education and raised a son who graduated from one of the top ranked universities in the world.
Padilla, who is running for re-election next year, is in Texas today to share his personal success story as the Latino Leaders Network honors him with the Eagle Leadership Award for making a significant impact on Latinos living in the United States.
“Given the demographics of California, I could argue there is no issue that is not a Latino issue,” said Padilla, who has focused his time as secretary of state in part on increasing voter registration.
The secretary of state’s parents moved to California from Mexico in the late 1960s and eventually settled in the San Fernando Valley. His mother, Lupe, cleaned houses and his father, Santos, worked as a short order cook. His parents stressed the importance of education as a key to a better future. Padilla remembers his father repeatedly telling him to strive to work with his mind, not his back.
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Padilla said his parents didn’t know much about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he received his acceptance letter to study engineering. He had never been east of El Paso.
“When I was growing up in elementary school here and even in college, running for politics and elected office was the last thing I imagined I’d be doing in my life,” Padilla said. “I couldn’t relate.”
Padilla has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. He said the 2016 presidential election reminded him of California during the Proposition 187 debate in 1994. Back then, the anti-Latino sentiment pushed him to become more involved in government.
“That’s when I jumped in with both feet,” Padilla said. He became the youngest Latino ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council at age 26.
The Latino Leaders Network luncheon will be held in San Antonio. Padilla called Texas the ground zero for voting rights in the U.S.
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WORTH REPEATING: “When Dianne (Feinstein) and I were running, people would say, ‘I can vote for one broad, not two broads.’”
- Former Sen. Barbara Boxer, to the Sacramento Press Club
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