Alex Padilla Kamala Harris
Photo: Twitter/@AlexPadilla4CA
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Alex Padilla Becomes California’s First Latino Senator

Despite having the largest population of Latinos in the United States, California is just now getting a Latino senator for the first time in its 170 years as a state. Governor Gavin Newsom named Padilla, the son of Mexican immigrants, as Kamala Harris’s replacement. Padilla has been secretary of state since 2015 and also made history as the first Latino to hold that position.

“His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country. I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.

Padilla’s parents worked as a short-order cook and housekeeper and he went on to earn an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s no stranger to making history when became the youngest ever president of Los Angeles City Council at the age of 28 before being elected to the Legislature and then secretary of state. There are more than 15.5 million Latinos in California making up  39.4 percent of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Padilla joins a growing team of Latinos in politics with the arrival of Biden’s administration, which will include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the president-elect’s pick for health secretary.

Some of the issues he’s known to have tackled while in the state Senate including environmental and health and safety where he worked on phasing out single-use plastic bags and requiring restaurants to disclose nutritional information on their menus.  He also told CNN that he was well prepared to serve in the Senate after dealing with the L.A. budget after 9/11, chairing a state Senate committee on energy and telecommunications, and securing the integrity of the ballot box in the middle of a pandemic.

“I will make you proud and California proud by getting it done in the U.S. Senate. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m ready,” Padilla said in the video chat with Newsom. Padilla will serve out Harris’ term, which ends in 2022, and he can then run again for a full six-year term.

I”’m going to the Senate to protect healthcare, make sure every Californian has access to a vaccine, to get our economy back on track and our people back to work. I know we are going to lead a California comeback that doesn’t leave working families behind,” he tweeted.